As is seemingly the case with everyone who attended NCTE, great conversations turned into great planning sessions turned into blog posts/new ideas in the classroom/extensive To Be Read lists.
On the very first day, we found ourselves a nice comfy couch and that became our hub for planning over the 6 days we were in Vegas. Even if we weren’t physically on the couch, we could just imagine it, and the ideas started flowing. This blog post was started in chairs at ALAN and finished at our homes, but was written entirely from that comfy couch (if you’re wondering, it was a couch on the first floor, near the end of the hallway, to the left just before the back-side escalator).
It didn’t take long for us to realize that we wanted to talk about how great authors are and share that with others. Our own little version of a gratefulness post. Everywhere we went during NCTE and ALAN, there were authors doing great things: giving away books (thank you, publishers!), signing for free, talking with teachers, hugging strangers, and just spreading the love and joy of all things literary. So we have come up with our Top Ten Reasons We Love Authors.
1) They save lives.
Who hasn’t heard the story (or had the story themselves) of a book changing someone’s life to the point where they stopped bullying someone, or began to look at their eating disorder, or changed their mind when contemplating suicide? Thank you, authors.
2) They Skype with our classes.
Is there anything cooler than having your students enjoy a great book and then talk, face-to-camera-to-computer-screen-to-face with the creator of the book? For inspiring our students to realize being an author is not something unattainable, and for giving and sharing your time with us and coming into our classrooms, we thank you, authors.
3) They’re real people.
They’re on Twitter and in flesh-and-bone bodies and actually talk with us and have personalities and make mistakes and have insecurities and want affirmation and like music and TV shows and do other things besides just hole up and write. They also talk a lot about revision – those amazing books don’t just come out that way. Thank you, authors.
4) They get excited when we love their books.
We like books. A lot. Sometimes to a level that people would consider embarrassing. But authors are right there with us, supporting us in our love for their work. But it’s not self-promoting support. It’s often things like “hey, I’m so glad you like my book! Can I send something to your students to express my gratitude?” or “wow, you like what I wrote? SO COOL! Let’s be friends!” They allow us to share our own and our students thoughts with them. Thank you, authors.
5) They put up with us fangirling over them.
Okay, sometimes we really do like a book a little “too much” (or so we’ve been told; we’re still not sure what that means). [Wait, Brian wrote that sentence. Jillian is interjecting to say she's never been told she likes a book too much, nor would she ever say that to someone...she doesn't believe such a thing is possible.] But authors put up with us gushing about them to their face (and over Twitter, blogs, goodreads, and everywhere else we can spread the word), often with awkward silences because we’re not sure what to say next, without getting [too] freaked out. Thank you, authors.
6) They fangirl over each other as much as we do.
It’s really fun going to author events and seeing other authors in the audience, getting excited. Or authors from other publishing houses/genres/everything Tweeting how excited they are for the next [insert author’s name here] book. We saw and heard this over and over during NCTE. We even gave one of our ARCs of a popular upcoming book to an author who desperately wanted it. It helps validate our obnoxious love. Thank you, authors.
7) They write books that make our students into readers.
“I never liked to read until I read ___________________.” ”_________________ is actually really good.” “Do you have more books like ___________________?” Comments we are privileged to hear again and again in our classrooms thanks to the plethora of quality books we can put into kids’ hands. Thank you, authors.
8) They write stories that help us get lost and found.
“Who gets lost in a book?” — Teri Lesesne during ALAN keynote address (all hands in the room go up)
“I get found in a book, too.” — whispered by Donalyn Miller
Thank you, authors.
9) They help us know we are not alone.
We all fall into the trap of thinking we’re the only person going through what we’re going through. Teenagers do this nearly every day. Books are often that gentle (or not-so-gentle) reminder that we’re not by ourselves. We are not the first ones to have gone through this. There are ways to cope. We have company, and in that company there is support. Thank you, authors.
9 1/2) They provide the mirrors and windows for us to see ourselves and the world.
Especially for our students, there is a need to see beyond the walls of their own classrooms and hometowns and people they are used to seeing…or to see those people and places represented in books. We’re given those opportunities through the worlds created and stories told in books. Thank you, authors.
10) Without them, the world as we know it would be lost.
Reading books (especially reading good books) has literally changed the world. It has increased empathy, developed our brains, and given rise to ideas that would not have a foothold were it not for reading. Thank you, authors.
Jillian Heise and Brian Wyzlic are Sister Classroom Teachers. No, they are not actually siblings or any sort of in-laws of each other nor have they met or taught each other’s biological siblings. They just connected in one of those magical Twitter-teacher-connection ways, and BAM, the Sister Classroom was born. They have grown, however, to consider each other bonus siblings mostly thanks to their compatible levels of snark and support of each other. More details can be found here. Also, they learned while writing this post that “fangirl” is a word accepted in Google’s dictionary, but “fan girl” as a phrase is not. You can follow more of their antics on twitter @heisereads & @brianwyzlic.