Before I tell you about our guest, I wanted to point you to a FANTASTIC post by Camille at Bookmoot about hosting and BEING a visiting author/illustrator. I have hosted a few authors and illustrators in my five years of being a media specialist and the one thing I have come to learn is, I do not book ANYONE unless I have heard them speak before or I have gotten at least two or three endorsements from other media specialist or teachers. There is nothing worse than bored kids listening to an author who is not exciting them to go out and read or write or draw or do all three. Actually there is something worse, knowing how much you PAID for this person to bore your students!
Now I get to brag on the guest I had in my media center the past three days - Chris Rumble, the Reading Guitar Man. He is a local GA author/illustrator/musician and he wrote and illustrated a series of books about a mountain man named Uncle Stinky, think Captain Underpants meets a Southern Mountain Hillbilly - Uncle Stinky likes the word YEEHAW a lot! He is not a world-famous, well known award winning author, but he got my students so fired up and excited to read and write that you would have thought he just won the Newbery and the Caldecott! He starts his show with his guitar and sings songs to the kids about reading, taking classic songs (My Girl, Sweet Home Alabama) and changing the lyrics to lyrics about reading. He gets the kids involved singing - and even the teachers (I had the camera the whole time, so I got out of subjecting anyone to my singing!) Then he puts the guitar down and talks about his books and about writing. He changes it up, depending on who his audience is, my favorite part was when he showed a group of fifth graders a story that he wrote in fifth grade, complete with illustrations (note to self, make sure I save ALL my kids work, in case someday they are a published author!) he usually finished with another song and then sends the kids back to their classrooms a little hyper, a little loud and really jazzed about reading and writing.
I am VERY lucky that I had a PTA who paid for him to be at my school for three days and every student got to see his presentation (even our special ed students, and he was GREAT with our special ed pre-k students!). I am also lucky that I have two more authors coming in this year, Melinda Long, author of How I Became a Pirate will be visiting for one day in March and Coleen Salley, author of the Epossumondas books will be visiting in May. I hope these visits go as well as the ones this week went.