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!

A Fun Morning at Hope Sullivan Elementary, Southaven, MS

My author visit at Hope Sullivan Elementary on Friday, January 20, 2012 was a great success! This was my first visit to Southaven, Mississippi, and I spoke to over 630 students in three presentations.

9:00 – 9:30  Kindergarten

9:40 – 10:10   1st Grade

10:20 – 11:05 2nd Grade

From left to right: Amanda Samples (Principal), Tammy, Terri McCain (Librarian), and Lisa Nye (Asst Principal).

The faculty and staff were very involved on every level. The principal, assistant principal, and librarian encouraged students to participate, and they did! Their enthusiasm was uplifting, and I did not leave empty-handed. A teacher, Jan Hoselton, presented me with art created by her kindergarten students.

Tiny Snail book covers created by kindergarten children at Hope Sullivan Elementary.

Thank you, Ms. Hoselton, for giving me their wonderful pictures. Here are a few of my favorites…

Mikaela loves Tiny Snail. I love her picture (above).

Logan combined my name with Tiny Snail’s (above). ‘Tamy Snail’ has a nice ring to it!

I also love AJ’s Tiny Snail. He even drew a colorful version of Miss Butterfly (below).

Hope Sullivan students, keep writing and drawing!

POLLIWOG inspires sisters to create a book at Farragut Primary in Knoxville, TN

I spent the day at Farragut Primary in Knoxville, Tennessee, on January 19th, 2012.

Farragut Primary's Librarian, Wendi Lesmerises (left), Tammy Bronson (middle), and Matthew Bronson (right).

With over one thousand Kindergarten through 2nd grade students at this school, the librarian and teachers did an outstanding job sharing my stories with all the children prior to our visit.

Farragut Primary's Gym

We needed a very large space to accommodate five classes at a time (~150 students), so we set up in the school’s gym.

8:00-8:30  (Kindergarten) 5 classes

8:40 – 9:10  (Kindergarten) 5 classes

9:20 – 9:50  (Kindergarten, 1st grade) 5 classes

10 – 10:30  (1st , 2nd grades) 5 classes

10:40 – 11:10 (1st grade) 5 classes

11:20 – 11:50 (1st , 2nd grades) 5 classes

Lunch Noon – 1 PM

1:10 – 1:40 (2nd grade) 4 classes

1:50 – 2:20 (1st , 2nd grades) 6 classes

My program is designed to inspire children to create their own picture books. Generally kids make their own book after my visit, but at Farragut Primary two sisters combined their talents to create their own book prior to my arrival.

Tammy (left) with author Abigail King (middle) and her teacher, Katie Wheeler (right).

The author, Abigail King (2nd grade), said that my book, Polliwog, inspired her story entitled, Lilly Pad the Tadpole. Her sister, Jessica King, illustrated their story.

Lilly Pad the Tadpole, a picture book by Abigail and Jessica King at Farragut Primary.

Many thanks to the King sisters and Abigail’s teacher, Ms. Wheeler, for giving me this imaginitive story. I’m glad Lilly Pad learned to swim!

Read Abigail’s book, Lilly Pad the Tadpole (PDF).

My Visit to Crockett Elementary, January 18, 2012

I visited Crockett Elementary in Franklin, Tennessee on January 18th. They have over 640 students in pre-k through 5th grade, so I set up in the gym where I spoke to one grade level at a time.

Tammy (left) and Crockett's Librarian, Julia Andrews (right).

The librarian, Julia Andrews, prepared the students for my visit, introduced me at the assemblies, and provided me with lunch. I really enjoyed her tour of their amazing library.

Crockett Library's Reading Nook with Puppets

Many of the books are organized by topic. Books in a series have their own shelf. So do the “Princess” books!

Ms. Andrews and her shelf filled with "Princess" Books.

Ms. Andrews painted the walls to look like a castle.

Mural at Crockett Elementary

The murals were painted by another artist, but Ms. Andrews designed each mural with a variety of characters from beloved books.

Another Mural at Crockett Elementary

Thank you Crockett Elementary for a great day! I look forward to my next trip to Franklin, Tennessee.

Schedule:

8:50 – 9:35       Kindergarten and Pre-K
9:40 – 10:25      First Grade
10:30 – 11:15      Third Grade
11: 15 – 12:15      Author’s Lunch
12:15 – 1:15       Fourth Grade
1:20 – 2:05        Second Grade
2:10 – 3:10       Fifth Grade

Last Author Visits of 2011

I was on the verge of posting about my first 2012 author visit when I realized I still needed to publish  about my final visits in 2011. Here is an overview of my last trip to Atlanta, Georgia.

My adventure began Monday, November 14, 2011 at…

Ocee Elementary
4375 Kimball Bridge Road
Alpharetta, GA  30022

I spoke to the children from the stage in the cafeteria. About 200 students attended each program.

8:00  Pre-K and Kindergarten

9:00  1st and 2nd grades

PTA member Jeannie Fisher (right) with Tammy (left) at Ocee Elementary, home of the otters!

Tuesday, November 15, I spent the day with Jennifer Rice in her library at…

Macedonia Elementary
10370 East Cherokee Drive
Canton, GA 30115

Each group had about 80 students.

8:15-8:55 Third Grade
9:00- 9:40 First Grade
9:45- 10:20 Kindergarten
10:25-11:05 Second Grade
11:10-11:40- Lunch
11:45-12:15 Fourth Grade
12:20-1:00 Fifth Grade
1:15-1:45 Book Signing

The librarian, Jennifer Rice (right), did a fabulous job preparing students for our visit.

My last author visit in 2011 was on Wednesday, November 16 at…

Greater Atlanta Christian School
1575 Indian Trail Rd
Norcross, GA  30093

My husband and co-author of KALEIDONOTES in the GACS library.

8:20-9:00           Third Grade
9:20-10:55          Kindergarden/First Grade
10:15-11:00         Fourth Grade
11:00-12:00        Lunch
12:00-12:45         Second Grade
1:00-1:45             Fifth Grade

We were right at home in their lovely library. The librarians, Allison Anderson and Renee Arnold, were very excited about our visit. Their enthusiasm for our books prior to our arrival prepared the students who were fully engaged and asked great questions.

From left to right: Allison Anderson, Tammy Bronson, Renee Arnold.

A 2nd grade teacher, Crystal Rush,  taught in Conway, Arkansas before moving to Norcross. She fondly recalled my author visit to Marguerite Vann Elementary on March 5, 2010. It’s a small world! I remember my visit to that school because a kindergarten student sent me a watercolor painting he did from my Polliwog book. It was such an amazing picture, I framed it. It still hangs in my office.

Although I often hear, “This is the best author visit we’ve ever had,” very few teachers find the time to put that in writing. My heartfelt thanks to Ms. Cherry at Greater Atlanta Christian School for taking time out of her busy schedule to post my favorite author visit review of 2011:

“Mrs. Bronson, Thank you for visiting Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross, GA today. I just have to tell you, that after listening to 15 years of author visits, your presentation was by far the best I have ever heard! My 4th graders greatly enjoyed your talk, learned, and were inspired to try writing their own picture book. I appreciated all of the aspects of being an author that brought to life as well as the from start to finish of the book. Learning how the books are actually put together was something that I do not think any author has ever presented. Your use of technology and explaining how you use Photoshop was also very helpful since the children are comfortable with that program. You and your husband presented a lively and informative author talk and I am thankful for your visit!”

Responses like this encourage me to continue traveling and inspiring children to be readers, writers, and lifelong supporters of the library. I am grateful for any feedback, but this was a big boost that helped me get off on the right foot in the new year. A fond farewell to 2011. Hello, 2012!

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”

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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”

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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”

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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!

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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!

Red Rocks Elementary at Red Rocks Park, Morrison, Colorado

Red Rocks Elementary Librarian

Tammy (left) and Courtney Drysdale, Librarian (right), at the Red Rocks Elementary Library.

Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Red Rocks Elementary is a wonderful school located in Morrison, Colorado, a popular tourist destination just 30 minutes from downtown Denver.

View from the Red Rocks Elementary library window.

View from the Red Rocks Elementary library window.

I spoke to Red Rocks’ students on Thursday, November 10, 2011, and I was impressed that the  children can see the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater from the library window.

9:15-10:00 AM 4th, 5th, & 6th Grades

10:10-10:40 AM Kindergarten & 1st Grades

10:50-11:35 AM 2nd and 3rd Grades

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Enlarged view of part of the Red Rocks Amphitheater as seen from the library window.

I regret that we did not have more time to drive into the park itself. This is an area I would love to visit again only next time as a tourist. Red Rocks Park has a fabulous website with great photos of the area at:  http://www.redrocksonline.com/.

We had to leave the school at midday and drive back to Lakewood to visit Green Gables Elementary that afternoon.

12:40-1:20 Kindergarten & 1st Grades

1:20-2:05 4th, 5th, & 6th Grades

2:15-3:00 2nd & 3rd Grades

Both schools are small with only about 350 students each, and Courtney Drysdale is the librarian at both Red Rocks and Green Gables. Courtney did a fabulous job organizing our visits!

My husband and I did manage to take one day off during our trip to Denver. We spent that day in Boulder, Colorado. It was our first trip to Boulder, and my favorite tourist attraction that day was our tour of the Celestial Seasonings Tea Company. I love tea!

Celestial Seasonings Tea Shop, Boulder, Colorado

Celestial Seasonings Tea Shop, Boulder, Colorado

Colorado is a beautiful state, and we were very fortunate that the weather was gorgeous all week (50 degrees or more). We’re looking forward to visiting the Denver area again.