‘Tis the season for emails requesting our presence as Read Across America readers in elementary schools throughout the country. Often, the greeting on the email is “Hi.” This usually means that the host is casting the same message to countless authors & illustrators, hoping to reel in one or two live ones. Occasionally, the greeting will be personalized as in, “Dear [insert name of author here]” with a generic message following it. And in the very best emails, they might even mention the title of one or more of your books.
Usually, the schools want you to be part of their celebration which translates to, “Would you be interested in being one of the readers for the event? You can read in as many classrooms as you feel comfortable.”
Really? Go all that way just to read a book aloud? And be one of many, many readers on a day filled with adults and kids in Cat in the Hat chapeaux and principals shaving their heads because kids have read a trillion pages?
And we won’t even mention that you are being asked to donate your time.
Frankly, I love that this celebration exists. It gives a national platform to a very important topic. And I’m very gracious when I turn down these requests. But, my own talents as a writer, encourager, and teacher are better off being used at a quieter time when I can do my magic not as someone who can rock a read-aloud, but as someone who can offer kids specific advice on how to improve their writing, revel in their revisions, and read, read, read. And read not just to count pages accomplished – but to read to lead a better, fuller life.
Do you have any Read Across America Stories you’d like to share? Tell us here!