Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sharing Stories with Children by Leanne Dyck

During my last writing group meeting, I shared a picture book manuscript. I was delight to receive most of the feedback. But... But... One comment stopped me in my tracks. 

"Have you shared this story with children?" They asked me.

"Hmm, no," I said.

"Well, you should."

"How? It's a picture book. It needs pictures. And I don't draw," I told them.

They had an answer for that too. "You could clip pictures out of magazines."

Or I could gather pictures from the Internet, I told myself.

I knew collecting pictures for my book wasn't the problem. Interacting with a group of children was. It had been too many years since I'd done that. I'd burnt out of my career as an Early Childhood Educator several years ago--right after my mom died.

I have many happy memories of reading books to children. It has always been one of my favourite activities. I miss it. But fear has kept me away.

What if I no longer know how to interact with children? What if I trip and fall over words because of my dyslexia? What if...
I dwelled on these 'What ifs...' until one (early) morning. That morning I took myself in hand. "Are you going to continue to be blocked by your fear or are you going to trust yourself and take a leap?" I asked myself.

I gulped and answered, "I'm going to take a leap."

And so I contacted my local library. "Are you still looking for people to read to the children?" I asked them.

"Ah, no, not really," they told me, "In fact, we just printed the poster."

I read the long list of names. I was disappointed but proud that I'd tried to take a leap. It wasn't me who'd failed to overcome my fear. I'd tried. They just had enough readers. I was about to walk away with my head held high, but they stopped me. "But, we should have a few extra people in case something comes up." They took my contact information.

"But they won't contact me," I told myself. Once again I was caught in a net of disappointment (that I won't be able to read to a group of children) and hope (that I won't have to read to a group of children).

Well, they did contact me. A blend of apprehension and excitement carried me from my home to the library. I waited for the children to arrive. And they did arrive. 

The first thing I did was share that story I'd written. We enjoyed adding sound effects and acting out parts of the story.  Then the children plucked books from the shelves and handed them to me.  The last book they gave me was Up, Up, Up, Down by Robert Munsch (click this link to Robert Munsch's web site

In true Munsch style, he wrote the book so the children could quickly become engaged with the reading. We all loved repeating "Up, up, up, up, down." And we enjoyed the illustrator's (Michael Martchenko) silly sense of humour.

In the end, I was so thankful I'd taken that leap. I was delighted to see a group of children so entertained by books. And all those wonderful old feelings I got from reading to children, they all came rushing back. I road those feelings for a few days--such joy.

Over many years of reading books to children, here some of my favourite books (in no particular order--meaning:  if I could list them all first, I would)...

The Monster At the End of This Book by Jon Stone 

This book really brings out my inner actor. 

It Looked Like Split Milk by Charles Green Shaw 

I really like telling (as oppose to reading) It Looked Like Split Milk. My favourite way of telling it is to cut out a variety of shapes, put them in a box and have each child choose one. They reach in without looking at the shapes. Then we all guess at what the shape is.

Anything by Robert Munsch 
Okay, too vague
Here are some; I'm sure there are more

The Paper Bag Princess
Murmel, Murmel, Murmel
Mud Puddle
Love You Forever 

'For the Love of Books' part one and part two
(an article I wrote in the 1990s on how to read to children)

'Why I Write for Children' by Darlene Foster

I have more to say about reading to children and on Monday, October 5th I look forward to sharing an article I wrote on this subject. 


The deadline for Room's poetry and fiction contest has been extended to midnight of August 1st. Here's the link for more information.

Next Monday:  How to Live A Dream

Sharing my author journey...

If things are too good to be true then they just might be.

Recently, I was connected through LinkedIn by a literary agent. I 

was excited and asked if she handled children literature authors (I write for children and adults). She assured me that she did and advised me to send her a query. Then I did some checking and what I found was unsettling. 

So, nope, I won't be following up on this lead.

Writers, let's me careful out there.