I’m in Nashville at the SCBW-Midsouth conference and am having a great time! Genetta Adair, Sharon Cameron, Susan Eaddy, and Courtney Potter did a simply amazing job of organizing this conference, and it’s been a great combination of work and fun (sometimes both at the same time, which is best of all!).
On top of all that, Friday before the conference began was a very special day. At my request, Sharon took on the extra work of getting in touch with an under-resourced school in the area so I could do a pro bono presentation to the students there. Sharon linked up with librarian Allison Barney at Wright Middle School, and I got to visit with more than 200 eighth graders.
It gets better: Even though the lead time was relatively short, the language-arts teachers at the school had all gotten behind the idea of the visit and prepared the students by reading the first chapter of A LONG WALK TO WATER with them and talking about setting. So these kids were READY, and they asked great questions at the end of the presentation.
And we *still* haven’t gotten to the best part.
Sharon and the other organizers arranged for the conference online registration form to include a ‘donate’ button for participants to contribute toward a fund to buy books for the school. The books were purchased through firstbook.org, which makes books available to underprivileged schools free or at heavily discounted prices. And . . .
The SCBWI Midsouth folks gave so generously that EVERY eighth grader at Wright Middle received a free copy of the book!
(In fact, there was money left over, which was given to the library to purchase still more books.)
It’s hard to describe what a thrill this was for me. All the pieces came together–enthusiastic librarian and teachers, supportive administration, well-prepared and attentive students, and an organization of children’s book enthusiasts who did much more than just talk the talk.
Thank you, Wright Middle School and SCBWI-Midsouth. Truly, my heart is full.