Mary Ann Scheuer is a well-read school librarian in Berkeley, California. She connects her students with authors, librarians, and students who live thousands of miles away.
I invited Mary Ann to chat with me in a Google document about Lauren Mryacle’s virtual visit. I wrote the words in red, and Mary Ann wrote the words in black. Thank you, Mary Ann!
*Lauren Mryacle is the Judy Blume of our new generation of middle grade readers. She writes books about friendships and school, girl drama and family drama, that help kids think about their own lives. Her Winnie books (Ten, Eleven, Twelve, etc.) and her Flower Power books spread from girl to girl, becoming some of the most frequently checked out titles this year.
*I connect with authors on Skype because as a small public school, we cannot afford to bring big-name authors to our campus. Skyping allows our students to connect with an author they love and care about,and feel like they’re really getting a sense of their life. Our Skype visit with Lauren was actually more intimate than a whole-class assembly. We held it at lunchtime and invited all the 4th and 5th graders. The girls who read and loved Lauren’s books came - we had about 30 students. They laughed and laughed as Lauren’s 8th grade son did “bunny ears” over his mom’s head. They got a sense that Lauren is a real person.
*We prepared for Lauren’s virtual visit by reading and sharing her middle grade series (the Flower Power books and the Winnie books), brainstorming questions, and preparing an introduction.
*I always recommend Lauren’s books to girls who like realistic fiction, friendship stories, and funny stories that also have a heart to them.
*Lauren emphasized that you have to stay true to your core, who you really are in your heart. She told our students about how hard it was to get her first book published, and that she wanted to quit. But that her friend helped her keep going and keep submitting her manuscript.
*My students will always remember Lauren’s laugh, her sincere interest in them, and her funny son who didn’t want to show his face.
*Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about the advice Lauren gave to a student who asked her for advice becoming a writer. Lauren was very earnest and passionate, telling this student to read lots, of course. But to read books once for the pure pleasure, but then to read them again looking at the craft of writing - how the writer created a funny moment, made you cry, made you care about a character. Read thinking about the craft of writing. This was wonderful advice to this avid young reader.
You should have asked me about how we contacted Lauren. Really, we just asked! I had first contacted her publisher to see if she was available for a school visit earlier this year when she was in our area on tour. That tour was just too busy, so the publisher suggested a Skype visit. If a teacher or librarian wants to try out a Skype visit, I would really recommend just contacting an author and see if they’d be willing to try!