On Thursday this week, I, along with my kindergarten class, participated in our first ever World Read Aloud Day. Earlier this fall a friend shared a link to Kate Messner’s blog where Kate shared an extensive list of authors who do free Skype in the classroom visits. This was too good to be true!
I scanned the list, and found author & illustrator, Monica Carnesi. Her picture books looked wonderful, and I knew my students would love the opportunity to meet her via a Skype visit. I emailed her, and we soon confirmed a time to connect.
To familiarize my students with her work, we read both of her books in preparation for our visit. The book we chose to have her read and share with us was a delightful story titled Little Dog Lost. Oh my, if you have not read this book, you must. It tells the true story of Baltic, a dog who finds himself adrift on a chunk of ice on a river in Poland and how he is at long last rescued. My students were captivated by this story, and even more so when Miss Monica appeared live and in person on our Smart Board to read it to us!
Monica was a delight! The children hung on her every word, fully appreciating this extra special experience with a real author and illustrator. She read the story, then shared actual photos and stories about Baltic beyond what we learned from the story. They couldn’t get enough!
She graciously gave time for our questions, and answered each one with the greatest of detail and clarity for my young readers to understand. She was so wonderful and personable with my students! Here is young Dylan at the camera asking her question:
After our Q&A she gave us a tour of her studio and even showed us some of her actual drawings from the book, as well as a sneak peek at her next book she is working on! We felt quite lucky to be in the know of this rather secret information!
During writing workshop that afternoon, we wrote and illustrated our own reflections from the experience to share with Monica. Some students created tiny books about Baltic, while others shared how much they loved Baltic and what a brave dog he was. Connecting a story to the creator behind it made a lasting impression on them, I am certain. They continued to talk about it even the next day, some returning to their tiny books, while others started new pieces.
Have you ever done a Skype visit with an author? Kate Messner has another blog post of more authors you can contact. Now that I have done one, I am hooked. What better way to celebrate books with your students than with the actual author? I believe this experience demystified the person behind the name on the cover of a book for my students. They could see that real people are the people writing the words and drawing the pictures in the very books they read! And who knows, maybe the experience will plant a seed in a future author or illustrator whose books will delight a future kindergartner just like them.