Little Teachers

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“What is the book about?”

“How many characters are there?”

“What are their names?”

“Where is the book set?”

“What is the story about?”

“Is it a book for big people?”

The questions came thick and fast at the end of a 40 minute presentation to first graders at the school my children go to. With author day coming up at school, a chance conversation with Pattu’s teacher turned into a promise to show up at school and talk to a hundred seven year olds about the writing process. I got off the car, butterflies in my stomach, hands full of props. A stack of notes on thick construction paper lay inside my bag.

Walking into the room, I felt overwhelmed. What could I, a novice to the craft of writing tell impressionable children? I write what comes naturally. There is no premeditation. Taking a deep breath, I introduced myself and started at the beginning. The Title. I picked a book the school is reading as a whole and started there. The anxiety lessened, the fluttering in my tummy settled and I even managed to enjoy myself. We talked about the title, the outline, the writing process and revision. We read the beginning passages from books and worked on a little project that made the children use words to show but not tell what animal they picked from a tray I brought to school.

Thanking everyone, I clutched a sheaf of papers and got into the car before driving home. Legs stretched, Laddu on my shoulder, I read some of the notes and smiled. The descriptions were literal. Some were vivid. Some blew my mind.

Putting the papers away, I chose to reflect on the last few minutes of Q&A. As the questions came, I felt my confidence rise. Answering questions on what I was working on forced me to pare the book to its bones. What is the story about? Who is the story about? Whom is the book for? If I struggled with writing the synopsis before, I now struggle with the draft I have on hand. The inadequacy of my work in progress struck me mid answers. It also validated my need to identify as a writer, as an author. It threw a harsh light on how much more I have to learn about the craft of writing. I walked away, a new respect in my heart for the teachers who teach our children each day, honing them into remarkable citizens.


  1. The activity you describe sounds fun, would love to know more about it…! Nothing clears your mind and fills your soul more than being in a room full of eager little learners.

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