My Read Across America Week – Day Four: A Seuss-tacular Sock Hop

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An inspirational quote painted on the cafeteria wall at Walnut Grove Elementary.

Since Read Across America Day is today (Saturday March 2nd),  the actual birthday celebration for Dr. Seuss was celebrated by many elementary schools on Friday, March 1st.

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TINY SNAIL banner by Walnut Grove students.

For this Seuss-tacular day I returned to a school I visited in 2008: Walnut Grove Elementary in Franklin, Tennessee. Students at this school celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday with a Rock-N-Roll Read-A-Thon every year. The school day is extended to 5:00 PM in order to accommodate the many Read-A-Thon activities. Students wore costumes reminiscent  of the 1950’s. Girls pranced about in poodle skirts while the boys strode up and down the halls sporting sunglasses, white t-shirts, leather jackets, and loafers. They were so adorable! Throughout the day children ‘hopped’ into a favorite book during the sock hop in the gym. My author program took place in the cafeteria.

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Mural in the Walnut Grove cafeteria.

8:45 am – 9:30 am 2nd grade
9:40 am – 10:25 am 4th and 5th grades
1:00 pm – 1:45 pm 3rd grade
1:55 pm – 2:30 pm Kindergarten
3:00 pm – 3:35 pm 1st grade

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Mural in the Walnut Grove cafeteria.

The last time I visited Walnut Grove, the walls in the cafeteria and halls were white and adorned with art by students. (See my blog post: 2008 Walnut Grove Student Art.) Since my last visit in 2008, Gale Hinton painted amazing murals on the walls.

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Of course my favorite murals were of the sea life.

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You can learn more about Gale’s beautiful art on her website at http://www.galehinton.com.

An army of parent volunteers made this day possible for the students, and I want to especially thank Megan for coordinating our visit as well as Catherine Brown for introducing me to students. Her cheerful presence throughout the day was an awesome contribution to the program’s success. Keep reading Walnut Grove!

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A quote from Dr. Seuss painted on the cafeteria wall: “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is youer than you.” From HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! ©1959

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My Read Across America Week – Day Two and Three

From Hoover, Alabama I drove north to Franklin, Tennessee where I planned to visit three more schools celebrating Read Across America, but when I arrived, everyone was buzzing about “Manhunt Monday.” All Williamson County schools were closed on February 25th so authorities could search for a school maintenance worker accused of firing a shotgun at his wife and children over the weekend. The maintenance worker had keys to every school in the district, so every school in the county closed until the man was apprehended. Thankfully he was found Monday night. Students returned to school on Tuesday, and although my first author visit in Franklin was scheduled at Edmondson Elementary on Wednesday, February 27th, the incident was still fresh in everyone’s mind.

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Edmondson Elementary has over 700 children, and the students and staff are fortunate to have a very large and active PTA to support their endless stream of activities. My author visit was the perfect compliment to the school’s Read-A-Thon.

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Patti Prasad (Left), Tammy Bronson (Center), and Dana Iverson (Right).

Several members of the PTA were on hand for my visit. Dana Iverson made the most amazing shortbread cookies. They were perfect depictions of characters from my books. Many thanks to Dana for the best cookies ever, and thanks to Patti Prasad who was especially helpful before, during and after the visit. Edmondson Elementary rocks!!!

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The most beautiful shortbread cookies I’ve ever seen. They were so SCRUMPTIOUS, and yes, I ate most of them all by myself. (Tiny Snail was the first to be eaten!)

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The following day I visited Johnson Elementary. It is one of five elementary schools in the Franklin Special School District (FSSD).  The principal, Tosha Robinson, invited me to speak with students on Thursday, February 28th. I set up in the gym at 2:00 PM and performed one presentation for all 450 (K-5) students in the school. This was one of the largest groups of students I have ever spoken to, but the program was a great success.

I returned for Reading Night later that day from 6 to 8 PM. The primary focus for Reading Night was the Scholastic Book Fair, but many other reading programs took place including teachers and parent volunteers performing reading activities with children. Many thanks to the Ms. Robinson for adding my program to the students’ busy curriculum.

My Read Across America Week – Day One

Read Across America Day is observed annually on Dr. Seuss’ birthday (March 2nd), but many elementary schools plan activities for the entire week leading up to the Seuss Birthday Bash.  This is a popular week for author visits, and my Read Across America Celebration began on February 26th in Hoover, Alabama where I visited Prince of Peace School.

02-26-2013PrincePeaceSch005The principal, Connie Angstadt, hosted a Writer’s Cafe where parents were invited to view the students’ writing.

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Each student at Prince of Peace keeps a writer’s notebook, and every year the student adds more stories or writing to their collection. The older students (4th and 5th grades) had the largest collection of stories and art on display.

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Tables displays were created to celebrate favorite authors or series of books. Of course one table was dedicated to Dr. Seuss, but others included Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket, and even Star Wars.

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In addition to the Writer’s Cafe, the Scholastic Book Fair was in full swing in the library. I rarely perform an author visit during a book fair, but when I do, generally I speak to students in another part of the school such as the music room, gym, or an auditorium; but with parents visiting the Writer’s Cafe, the school was bursting at the seams. I set up in the library in front of the Scholastic book fair shelves, and the students squeezed in on the floor between tables smothered with books.

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The librarian, Midge Buote (known affectionately by all as ‘Ms. B’), was very accommodating, and we appreciate everything she did to make our day a success. My visit to Prince of Peace was a great start to Read Across America Week.

Library mural painted by a parent volunteer at Prince of Peace School.

“Where the Wild Things Are” library mural painted by a parent volunteer at Prince of Peace School.

Author Celebration Day at Willowbrook Elementary

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On February 20th my husband and I visited Willowbrook Elementary in Bentonville, Arkansas.

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Willowbrook Library Media Specialist Danna Caudill (left) and Author/Illustrator Tammy Carter Bronson.

It was a great treat to visit a school so close to home, and I must thank the Library Media Specialist, Mrs. Danna Caudill, for making this visit possible. Her passion for literacy and exceptional organizational skills created an event that made a lasting impact not only on the students but on the community as well.

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From left to right: Willowbrook Principal Cynthia Dewey, Author Tammy Carter Bronson, and Librarian Danna Caudill.

I met Mrs. Caudill at Oak Elementary in Bartlett, Tennessee during an author visit in November 2008. My program at Oak Elementary was a great success, and when Mrs. Caudill moved to Bentonville and took a position at Willowbrook, she encouraged the Principal, Cynthia Dewey, to choose Tiny Snail for the One School, One Book program which is designed to create a shared reading experience within a single elementary school community. In January every child at Willowbrook received a copy of Tiny Snail, and over the course of a month teachers integrated the book into the curriculum.

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Author’s Tea and Breakfast at Willowbrook Elementary.

Our visit began bright and early at 7:00 am on February 20th with an “Author’s Tea.” Teachers, staff and community leaders were on hand to meet and greet my husband and I in the school library.

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From left to right: Author Tammy Carter Bronson, Bentonville Mayor Bob McCaslin, Cave Springs Mayor Larry Smith, and Author Matthew Shane Bronson.

The mayors of Bentonville and Cave Springs attended, as well as members of the Bentonville school board and the children’s librarian at the Bentonville Public Library.

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Author Tammy Carter Bronson and the children’s librarian at the Bentonville Public Library, Sue Ann Pekel.

We set up for our program in the music room where we spoke to students one grade level at a time.

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8:10 – 9:00  Fourth Grade
9:00 – 9:50 Third Grade
9:50 – 10:40  First Grade
10:40 – 11:30  Lunch in the Library
11:30 – 12:20  Kindergarten
12:20 – 1:10  Kindergarten
1:10 – 2:00  Second Grade

Around midday it started to snow, but thankfully the precipitation quickly melted from the sidewalks and roads.

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At 2:00 o’clock we toured the school. Nearly every hallway in the school was covered with student projects relating to Tiny Snail, and I took so many pictures (over 160) that I can’t share everything in one blog post. More pictures of student art and activities are forthcoming in the following posts:

Student Art at Willowbrook
Kindergarten Projects at Willowbrook
1st Grade Projects at Willowbrook
2nd Grade Projects at Willowbrook
3rd and 4th Grade Projects at Willowbrook

More related posts include:

Mrs. Caudill at Oak Elementary
Using Kaleidonotes in the Classroom
Translating Polliwog Into Spanish

Every student at Willowbrook is an author and illustrator. Congratulations Willowbrook students, and Happy Author Celebration Day!

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Willowbrook Elementary: Where Every Student is an Author!

Valentine’s Day in Texas

Valentine’s Day is a popular date for author visits at schools probably because this is a ‘free’ day for most schools with students exchanging valentines and enjoying parties. As a result, every year we visit a different school on Valentine’s, and this year we spent the holiday in Texas.

On February 13th we returned to Liberty Christian School. Our first visit to this fabulous school in Argyle, Texas took place on November 1st in 2011. (Read my blog post about the first visit). The librarian, Yvonne Lacy, enjoyed our visit so much that she invited us to return and speak with the younger students at the school. In 2011 we spoke to students in 3rd through 6th grade, so this year we targeted kindergarden through 3rd. Our presentations took place in a new meeting room designed specifically for special programs.

12:45 – 1:15 PM  Kindergarten & 1st Grade
1:30 – 2:15 PM  2nd Grade
2:25 – 3:10 PM  3rd Grade

Matthew Shane Bronson preparing to speak with students at Liberty Christian School.

Matthew Shane Bronson preparing to speak with students at Liberty Christian School.

As before, Mrs. Lacy did a fantastic job preparing the students for our visit. Some of my favorite fan mail came from Liberty Christian School, and I still have this beautiful letter from Bella (dated November 2011) on display in my office where I can see it everyday:

Bella's Letter

“Dear Mr. & Mrs. Bronson,

I had a great time when you came to our school and I really like your cute books and I can’t wait to read new ones that you wrote! I love to write and illustrate. I also want to be the same thing you are right now! You inspired  me that its not those big animals that always matter. Your books tell us that even the smallest creatures are very special because God made them that way! Thanks!

Love from Liberty Christian

Bella

TIP: Keep writing!”

I am still writing, Bella!

*     *     *     *     *

That evening (February 13th) we had dinner at Zanata’s in downtown Rockwall, and I have to say it was one of the best meals I have ever had. If you ever visit Rockwall, Texas, go to Zanata’s!

*     *     *     *     *

The next day was Valentine’s, and we visited Heritage Christian Academy in Rockwall. Students gathered in the library to watch my program.

9:15 – 9:45 am K – 1st Grades
9:45 – 10:30 am 2nd – 4th Grades
10:30 – 11:15 am 5th – 6th Grades

We signed books for students in the school cafeteria during lunch, and we learned that one of the parents at the school is also an author. Anne Mateer has several books published with Bethany House. Her latest book, A Home For My Heart, will arrive in bookstores September 2013. Congrats Anne!

Amazing Bulletin Boards at CCLS

I visited Christ Community Lutheran School in Webster Groves, Missouri yesterday (Friday, 2/1/2013). I spoke with students in grades Kindergarten through 4th, and afterward we took a tour of the school. The teachers designed amazing bulletin boards inspired by my books, and the students did a fantastic job creating the art and writing stories.

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Our tour guide and the primary organizer of our author visit was the 1st grade teacher, Ann Schmidt. Her bulletin board featured the students’ favorite book, TINY SNAIL (above).

Arrival and set-up: 9:15 – 9:35 am.

Kindergarten 9:50 – 10:15

1st and 2nd grades 10:30 – 11:15

Lunch and Book Signing 11:15 – 1:00

3rd and 4th grades 1:00 – 1:45 pm

Tour 2:00 – 3:00 PM

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Designed by Mrs. Dittmer’s kindergarten class, this bulletin board based on POLLIWOG illustrated the pond above and below the water.

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Below, many students wrote stories, and a trail of brightly colored snails marched up and around the bulletin boards.

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The “Polliwog Pond” below was created by Mrs. Belsha’s kindergarten class. This bulletin board was covered with tadpoles made from balloons. The tadpoles were at various stages of their transformation. They even created frog eggs from bubble wrap!

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The “Surf Shack” was the reading specialist’s room, and the entrance featured a table highlighting my books as this week’s feature.   

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The most elaborate design was based on SEA HORSE, RUN! and created by three classes of 2nd grade students (Mrs. Ladd, Mrs. Brown, and Mrs. Leet). The display gave the illusion of walking through a glass tunnel at an aquarium. The walls and ceiling were covered in a cloth that mimicked water, and the collage of sea creatures were designed to scale by the students.

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Mrs. Karen Brown (left) and Mrs. Marcia Ladd (right) are pictured below.

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The next montage of pictures contains closeups of this elaborate bulletin board. The eel has christmas lights inside so he lights up, and the red coral ‘growing’ out of the floor was made from swimming pool noodles. So creative!!!
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A big thank you to the students and staff of CCLS for making my first author visit of 2013 so memorable. I can’t think of a better way to start the new year!
The school also created a video at animoto.com about my visit:

A Kaleidonotes Study Guide for Music Class

My second picture book, The Kaleidonotes & the Mixed Up Orchestra, is often used by instructors to teach children the instruments of the orchestra and where they sit on stage.

Interesting Facts About the Book

The number seven is repeated several times in this book.

There are seven characters, and each name begins with one of the seven notes in the musical scale: Amos, Bo, Cloe, Dax, Echo, Finn, Gigi.

There are also seven colors represented (one for each character): red (Finn), orange (Gigi), yellow (Cloe), green (Amos), blue (Bo), indigo (Dax), violet (Echo).

The book’s themes include cooperation and teamwork.

Map illustrating where instrument groups are usually positioned on stage in the orchestra.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why do the notes face the wrong direction?

The notes have popped off the page and are three dimensional! When they interact with the instruments of the orchestra, sometimes they turn and face another direction.

Why are the notes not black?

Rather than color each note various shades of black, I decided to make the book more colorful by assigning a color to each note. Since there are seven notes, it made sense to use the seven colors of the rainbow.

Where did the name ‘Kaleidonotes’ come from?

‘Kalos’ is Greek for ‘beautiful’, and ‘eidos’ is Greek for ‘form’. So the name ‘Kaleidonotes’ means ‘beautifully formed’ notes! At the time we made the book (2000-2001), we enjoyed creating a new, unusual word.

Why is the viola not included in the orchestra?

The violin and viola looked so similar in my illustrations that we decided to leave the viola out so we could create a second book called: The Kaleidonotes & the Vanishing Violas. That story explores the differences between a violin and viola, and it explains why the viola is so important to the orchestra. The second book is still not published because we are debating whether or not to redesign the size and shape of the books as a series. With the increasing popularity of e-books, we are even considering publishing as e-books and possibly creating interactive Apps for iPad or the iPhone.

MATCHING GAME ACTIVITY

Click on the image to view full size then download and/or print.

Print the page above and below. Color and cut out the instruments and place them in their appropriate place on stage on the orchestra map. Both images were designed to print ‘landscape’ (11 x 8.5 inches), but you may want to enlarge the map on bigger paper (17 x 11)  to accommodate the larger instruments.

Click on the image to view full size then download and/or print.

Anatomy of an Author Visit Prep Packet

When a school signs up for an author visit, I send the school a confirmation packet filled with goodies that a librarian or teacher can use to prepare students for my program. Here is a sneak peek of the contents.

1 – Letter to the school confirming the date.

2 – Hardcover copy of Polliwog.

3 – Hardcover copy of Tiny Snail.

4 – Hardcover copy of “Sea Horse, run!”.

5 – Hardcover copy of Kaleidonotes.

6 – Four bookmarks (one for each book).

7 – Activity for Kaleidonotes.

8 – Activities for Tiny Snail including…
“Tiny Snail taught me…” Activity (For Bulletin Board)
Teacher’s Guide for Tiny Snail

9 – Activities for Polliwog including…
Frog Life Cycle Activity (Color, Cut, & Paste)
Teacher’s Guide to Polliwog

10 – Activities for “Sea Horse, run!” including…
“Sea Horse, run!” Teacher’s Guide.
Sea Horse Diagram
Brain Coral Maze
Draw Sea Horse with a Dot-to-Dot Activity

11 – DVD with videos of the books and me as the narrator.
Video of Tiny Snail.
Video of Kaleidonotes.
Video of Polliwog (English).
Video of Polliwog (Spanish).
“Sea Horse, run!” video is only available on the DVD.

12 – Timetable for a Successful Author Visit.

13 – Author Photo.

14 – Invoice for author visit fee and travel expenses.

15 – Book flyers for students who want to purchase books.

16 – Shipping label.

(17 )- FAQ by Teachers & Administrators / Program Outline for K-5 (not pictured above).

Want an author visit at your school?

Email books @ bookaroos.com for cost and availability in your area.

Timetable for a Successful Author Visit

Before I arrive for an author visit, I mail the school a confirmation packet that includes hardcover copies of the books (autographed to the school) with activities, a DVD of the books with me as narrator, and book flyers.

I depend on the school to inform students that I’m coming, so I like to provide a timetable in the packet.

TWO WEEKS PRIOR TO MY VISIT

1) Read at least one of the stories to the students. The music teacher can easily add Kaleidonotes to his/her curriculum. The remaining books may be shared several ways:

• Read the book(s) during library, at an assembly, or with the announcements.

• Or multitask! Engage students by playing the DVD of the book(s) on a projection screen as the teacher/librarian prepares their next lesson. The videos may also be accessed at my YouTube Channel.

Tiny Snail YouTube Video

Polliwog YouTube Video

Kaleidonotes YouTube Video

The video of my new book, “Sea Horse, run!”, is on the DVD but not on YouTube.

After reading “Sea Horse, run!”, you may want to watch my YouTube video about the art in the book. SPOILER ALERT: The video focuses on the ribboned sea dragon, and it gives away the ending in the story. I recommend reading the book first then watching the video.

My You Tube Channel

My You Tube Channel

ONE WEEK PRIOR TO MY VISIT

2) Please inform the teachers of the visit by e-mailing a link to my website, www.tinysnail.com. Electronic copies of teacher’s guides, activities, and my presentation outline are available here and may be sent as e-mail attachments. The materials are also in the confirmation packet. Feel free to photocopy them for classroom use.

3) Send book flyers home with students BEFORE the visit. (The book flyers are in the confirmation packet. I send one copy for each student. The date of the visit is printed on the flyer). You may copy the book flyer for students who lose their first flyer.

Book Order Form

4) E-mail a copy of the schedule to me at books @ bookaroos.com.

SAMPLE SCHEDULES…

FULL DAY VISIT

8:20- 9:00 Kindergarten

9:05- 9:45 First Grade

9:50- 10:35 Second Grade

10:45 – 11:30 Third Grade

Author’s Lunch 11:30-12:15

12:30-1:15 Fourth Grade

1:25- 2:15 Fifth Grade

2:15- 3:00 Book Signing

Half Day (AM)  (3 groups)

Arrive 7:45 am to setup

8:20-9:00 K-1st

9:10-9:55 2nd-3rd

10:05-10:55 4th-5th

11:00-11:30 Book signing

More sample schedules for a few of the schools I visited in Fall 2011 may be found in these blog posts:

Jackson Primary School
Trip Elementary
Dwight Elementary
McKelvey Elementary
St. Patrick School
Three Author Visits Oct 12th and 14th
Author Visits in Bryant, Arkansas
Liberty Christian School
Morton Elementary
Harvey Oaks Elementary

DURING THE VISIT

I prefer to set up in one location because I bring large poster displays and many hand-held visuals. Set up time is 15 minutes. I always arrive 30 minutes prior to the first presentation so I have plenty of time to set up. If I must move to another location at some point during the day, I need at least 20 minutes to disassemble, move, and reassemble my displays. If more than one location is required, please factor this additional time into the schedule.

I generally have one book signing at the end of the day for students; however, this is flexible depending on your needs. I pre-autograph books with the exception of the child’s name so I can conduct the signing quickly and efficiently. PLEASE DO NOT SEPARATE THE MONEY FROM THE FLYER. The money could be lost then the child will not receive their book.

It is helpful to a have a liaison or helper nearby if any problems or questions arise (especially during the book signing).

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I hope this information will assist schools and librarians preparing for my next author visit. Please email questions or comments to books @ bookaroos.com.  Happy Reading!

Author Visit Timetable PDF

Fan Mail From Liberty Christian School

As I sorted through a large pile of envelopes on my desk this afternoon, I found a stack of fan mail from students at Liberty Christian School. Here is a sample of pictures and letters the children made for me. (Read my original blog post about the author visit at Liberty Christian on November 1, 2011.)

Book Covers drawn by Hayden B. at Liberty Christian School

“Sea Horse, run!” and TINY SNAIL covers drawn by Hayden B.

Emily's Tiny Snail

TINY SNAIL cover drawn by Emily C.

Madison's Tiny Snail

TINY SNAIL cover drawn by Madison.

Drawing of Polliwog's Cover by Hayden at Liberty Christian School.

Polliwog cover drawn by Hayden S.

Tiny Snail Cover drawn by Tye at Liberty Christian School.

TINY SNAIL cover drawn by Tye.

A few students simply wrote letters instead of drawing a picture. This student forgot to sign their letter, but TINY SNAIL‘s message of perseverance and never give up made a big impression:

Liberty Christian Letter

“Thank you help me want to read more and to learn more of things learn as much I can and inspir’d me to write a book and write and try and never stop from your book the snail book”

*     *     *     *     *

Thankfully one student found my program both inspiring and entertaining:

Letter by Laura at Liberty Christian

“Thank you for coming. It helped me to do beter [better] in things. My favorite part was when you droo [drew] a frog. You inspired me to never give up. You’re very funny. Love Laura”

*     *     *     *     *

Avery's Letter

“Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bronson,

I have always wanted to be a writer. I have [been] making up stories since I was three years old. Thank you for coming and talking to us about your books. My favorite book is ‘SEA HORSE, RUN!’. I really want to do picture books. Thank you for coming to the school and sharing about your books. You should keep writing!

Avery”

*     *     *     *     *

Bella's Envelope

One student sent their letter in a separate envelope they decorated especially for me!

Bella's Letter

“Dear Mr. & Mrs. Bronson,

I had a great time when you came to our school and I really like your cute books and I can’t wait to read new ones that you wrote! I love to write and illustrate. I also want to be the same thing you are right now! You inspired  me that its not those big animals that always matter. Your books tell us that even the smallest creatures are very special because God made them that way! Thanks!

Love from Liberty Christian

Bella

TIP: Keep writing!”

I will keep writing, Bella!

*     *     *     *     *

A BIG thank you to ALL of the students at Liberty Christian for sending such wonderful pictures and letters. I keep my fan mail, and I will treasure your words of encouragement. You keep writing, too!