Promoting Literacy

What a wild couple of weeks!  I hardly know where to begin.  Eighteen months ago, I decided to join the Humboldt County Children’s Author Festival Committee. https://www.authorfest.org/.  My limited knowledge of this group was based on my past experiences when I was teaching.  Every two years, I got to enjoy a beautiful day with my class when a children’s writer would visit our school.  Before the author’s visit, the teachers would read many of the author’s books so that the kids could become more familiar with his/her books.

The magical day would arrive, and I so enjoyed watching my students’ faces as they became fully engaged.  The authors would share some of their books, how they became an author/illustrator, and convince many children that they too could follow their dreams and become whatever they wanted to be.  As I watched my students’ receptive faces, I saw future writers and illustrators born that day.

There were two main reasons I joined this committee: (1) I want to support anything that promotes literacy and education. (2) While I was teaching (I taught thirty-one years in grades 2-6), I dreamed of becoming a children’s author.

One of the best things about retirement is it has given me the freedom to try new things.  I took a writing class, found a writer’s critique group, and wrote a book about my life as a teacher to inspire the next generation of teachers.   https://www.amazon.com/They-Call-Mom-Difference-Elementary/dp/1977200052

Now, I’m following my dream of becoming a children’s writer, and I’m working on my first middle-grade chapter book.  While I’m hoping to publish my book eventually, I’m enjoying the whole learning process.

The week before the festival, we encountered a significant problem.  In the past two years, California has experienced wildfires around this time of year.  After another summer of mostly dry conditions, our power company decided to shut off power in advance of the expected windy weather.  Our immediate area has not been part of the wildfires, but we are part of the same electrical grid.  I would not even begin to compare our minor inconvenience to the loss of life and property that others have experienced, but it was a potentially significant problem for us.

Paying for the expense of getting the authors here and then putting them up in a fancy five-star hotel requires a lot of money, time, and effort.  While the authors were visiting, we planned to escort them to over sixty schools in the county where they could share about their lives as writers/illustrators.  We knew that many schools would cancel attendance for the day if they had no power. We were at the mercy of nature.  The reality of the situation became even more evident when we held our last committee meeting during the first power outage in the dark.

Fortunately, the power shutdown didn’t last several days, and the author festival went on as scheduled.  What a relief!   

I served as the Travel Chairman for the committee.  My primary role was to ensure that all of the twenty-five authors arrived and left safely.  Since most authors were flying, I had to have drivers waiting at the airport to take them to the hotel.  Since the authors were coming from all over the country, this was a challenge.  To make things more complicated, not one of the incoming flights arrived at its scheduled time.  Many planes arrived late, but one landed thirty minutes early.  That was supposed to be the third flight in, but it came first.  Because I didn’t want the drivers to have to wait at the airport all day, I continually sent them texts as I tracked the flights’ progress.  After a long day, we thankfully got everyone to the hotel. 

The next two days were spent driving the children’s authors to schools all over the county.  I got the pleasure of escorting one author each day.  The first day I went along with the author, Bob Barner.  https://www.bobbarner.com/  He writes books for primary grade children, and I already owned some of his books from my days as a teacher.  I was supposed to drive him to two schools that were about an hour away.  Just after I had left the hotel with Bob, I got a call from another committee member who reported that power was out in some of the schools in the southern part of the county, including the two schools I was supposed to take him to.  This power outage was unplanned and not part of a planned shutdown.  The schools decided to close for the day, and suddenly we had to come up with a plan B.  In the end, one of the schools found a way to invite their students back to school.  We drove south for an hour and arrived at lunchtime.  Thank goodness some students came back to school.  Bob handled the whole situation like a pro and wasn’t the least bit thrown off.  He played the ukulele during his presentation, and it wasn’t long before he had students singing along with him.

Children’s author/illustrator, Bob Barner reading his book, Dem Bones, to the students.
Children’s author, Bob Barner, illustrating a picture for the students.

The following day, I got to go back to my former elementary school to escort the author, Natasha Wing. http://natashawing.com/ Part of the joy of her visit was that Natasha formerly worked at Pine Hill as an instructional aide some twenty-four years before.  Natasha is best known for her “Night Before” series.  She has thirty books in this series—primarily for early readers.  She made four presentations and adjusted each one slightly depending on the age level.  It was a privilege to watch her interact skillfully with kids from kindergarten-third grade.

Children’s author, Natasha Wing, sharing some riddles with the students.
Children’s author, Natasha Wing, answering questions from kindergarten students.

On Friday night, we held a banquet for the authors at the historic Carson Mansion. https://www.ingomar.org/about/carson-mansion  After a delicious dinner, the twenty-five authors each spoke for three minutes. 

Saturday was an opportunity for the community to come and meet the authors.  They held a book sale at the Humboldt County Library.  Many people purchased the authors’ books, got an autograph, and had their picture taken with a favorite author.

Ten of the authors were flying out at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday, so we took them out to a hotel next to the airport on Saturday night so they could catch an early shuttle.  Others flew out later on Sunday, and I had to make sure they had a ride to the airport.  Seven of the authors drove, and we picked up their expenses for that. 

It’s been a week since the authors were here, and now we’re in the middle of another power shutdown.  What turned out to be a very successful four days was surrounded on each end by the loss of power.  We got lucky because the weather gods nearly sabotaged the whole thing. 

Besides feeling grateful and relieved, I have a lot of pride.  Our community and the dedicated people I worked with made this event a success.  I am so happy for the children of Humboldt County.

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50 thoughts on “Promoting Literacy

  1. What a wonderful event to be a part of, Pete. I often wish I lived in the USA, there are so many opportunities there for people. I heard about the power issues and am glad your event wasn’t affected.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor October 28, 2019 — 9:30 pm

      Thank you, Robbie. It was pretty great. One of my favorite parts was watching the authors interact with children. We had anything from early reader authors to young adult authors. We just got word that our power is going off again tomorrow. Oh well, I’ve been reading a lot more books lately.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We have lots of power failures here too, Pete. We have an automatic generator. Ours are for different reasons though.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What an amazing event to be a part of Pete. Such a buzz for you, the children and the authors and illustrators. I’m sure many were inspired to write and illustrate in their futures from these talks, and in the meantime, inspired to read.
    I’ve been seeing the fires in California on the news. What a horrific situation. I’m pleased you’re not in the danger zone. I hope it stays that way.
    P.S. Still no word on the ebook for They Call Me Mom? I’ve been checking. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor October 29, 2019 — 8:58 am

      I believe we all need mentors in any pursuit. I had so many educational mentors who guided me early in my career that I will never forget. My former principal and colleague, Nancy, is part of my writing critique group, and now she continues to inspire me at eighty-one years young, still volunteering in schools. (The main reason I wrote my book is I felt I owed something to a profession that has been so good to me.) One of the highlights of the festival was getting to talk to some of them about their business. I still look at writing as more of a hobby, and for them, it is their profession.

      The fires aren’t close to us, but everyone in our area seems to have family or friends involved who are. So devastating and sad!

      Thanks for asking about the Kindle version of my book. As usual, I don’t know much about how this works. My publisher set it up on Amazon, but it is not linked to the regular book. I was told it takes time for Amazon to link the two together, but now I am feeling skeptical. Nothing like having a book floating out there in the atmosphere that no one knows about. Here is the link (which of course, has no reviews because it isn’t linked.) https://www.amazon.com/They-Call-Mom-Difference-Elementary-ebook/dp/B07YBL8DPY/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=They+Call+Me+Mom+by+Pete+Springer+Kindle&qid=1572363501&s=books&sr=1-1 Add this to the long list of things I don’t understand. 😎

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m so excited, Pete. I followed the link and downloaded straight away. I’m sorry you won’t earn as much from the Kindle version as the paperback edition, but I was reluctant to get the paper so I guess it’s another sale. I’ve got a couple of other books on the go but I know I won’t be able to resist having a look at reading time tonight. I think it’s wonderful that you wrote it as a way of giving back to your profession. Admirable.
        Fires are terrible. We’ve had a lot here recently too and it’s not even bushfire season yet. The saddest thing is that most of them are deliberately lit. So cruel. So many lives forever changed by a mean act. Fortunately, no lives were lost here, but I fear the worst is yet to come.
        It must be wonderful to remain in contact with a principal who had such an influence on your teaching and now on your writing. I wish you success in all your endeavours, hobby or otherwise.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. petespringerauthor October 31, 2019 — 11:32 am

        Thanks for such a thoughtful response, Norah, and for all that you do as a fellow educator. I write about my principal in my book and the effect that she had on me. She was indeed one of those people who made me think, “I want to be like her.”

        With all of the power outages, I keep falling further and further behind in my blogging, but I’ll just have to give myself permission not to worry about it. Now we’re heading out of town tomorrow to catch up with our son. He coaches football at a university in Montana more than 1,000 miles away, but his team is traveling out our way (only four hours away). It will be great to see him, if only briefly because he’ll be doing his job. Have a great weekend!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I look forward to reading about your principal, and everyone else. I started reading last night, but I should have started earlier as I didn’t get very far before I had to sleep. I think the beginning of the book is similar to what you have on your web page. It’s good to refresh. 🙂
        I remember your mentioning this time with your son when you saw him last. Enjoy! Fleeting moments are better than none.
        And definitely, give yourself permission to not worry, be happy. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. glad the event went so well; congratulations on your efforts and contributions. I hope those power outages start to diminish soon…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor October 29, 2019 — 9:02 am

      As I’m typing this now, we’ve been told to expect a new one at any time. When you eventually retire, Jim, I hope you find things to volunteer for that make you happy. That has been the case for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good luck with the outages. And yes, I hope to spend time volunteering when I retire.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is wonderful! Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor October 29, 2019 — 9:06 am

      Thank you, Noelle. I’m proud to be associated with anything that promotes learning. It’s been a fun ride so far, and I’m trying to learn a few things along the way. Happy writing to you.

      Like

  5. Good grief, you are a dream volunteer. That was as ton of work but sounds like it was worth it. Kudos to doing such a wonderful event for kids!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor October 29, 2019 — 9:10 am

      It was very cool to be involved from the inside this time. I had no idea of all of the work that went on behind the scenes. I find that when you work with those who are equally passionate about something, you feed off of one another’s positive energy.

      Like

  6. What a wonderful experience Pete… to stay in touch with with authors and children – a double blessing! Keep this love alive.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. petespringerauthor October 29, 2019 — 9:19 am

    I plan to, Balroop. I’m enjoying the ride and learning from authors such as yourself.

    Like

  8. Well done, what a project and an iteresting one. It’s one thing to write books and another to engage an audience. Writing children’s books is harder than adult books and for the authors to also be able to capture the imagination of a live audince is wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor October 29, 2019 — 12:35 pm

      It was quite an undertaking, Janet. It required a lot of support from the community, and a lot of great people worked together to make it happen. Watching excited and engaged kids were the icing on the cake.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. An amazing effort to get those writers in front of kids. Wow! I am impressed at your commitment to the project and the chance it gave you to give back an experience you loved. The fires in California are terrifying. Eventually I suppose people on the coasts, in the woods and in desert towns will begin to realize the reality that nature is in charge and the climate is indeed changing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor October 29, 2019 — 3:21 pm

      You’re not going to get any argument from me, Elizabeth. We live on the coast, near the redwoods and the ocean. It stays pretty mild here all year, and we’re blessed not to have wildfires in our immediate area. Yet, there are those who, for some reason, can’t accept the fact that climate change is a new reality.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think a lot about places like Arizona which look to be uninhabitable down the road.

        Like

  10. What an amazing event!
    Very cool!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor October 29, 2019 — 7:55 pm

      It was very cool! Is this my awesome sister-in-law?

      Like

  11. Just wonderful, Pete! To be involved from soup to nuts must have been so rewarding. Fabulous post. Promoting literacy is my #1, too. I love getting the opportunity to hear children’s authors speak. Saturday I’m headed to the Eric Carle Museum to hear Kate DiCamillo. Did you ever read aloud her book Because of Winn Dixie to your students?

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    1. petespringerauthor October 30, 2019 — 9:47 am

      I certainly did—it’s one of my favorites! I’m sure Kate’s presentation will be fabulous. Have a great time!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, how I wish I had older children in my class to read to. What a treat to read aloud her book to your students. I’m sure her presentation will be wonderful. You know I’ll write a blog post on it. Thank you, Pete.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. That must have been some high highs and some lows – how wonderful that the event happened, thanks to Plan B and a lot of hard work, as well as many prayers I’m sure and smiles. I LOVE reading so this event makes me happy 🙂 Plus, it’s wonderful when people come together for an educational goal!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. petespringerauthor October 30, 2019 — 12:21 pm

    I was so happy to see such a great turnout at the library, with many parents bringing their children in to meet their favorite authors. I have so many new books to read, and because of the power going out subsequently, I’ve been reading up a storm.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This sounds fantastic Pete – I mean, despite the power outages, lol. I noticed you weren’t around and now you let us know about this fabulous event. How amazing to take part in something like that. I kind of live in my lonely writer’s corner where I live, so I can imagine what a great opportunity the whole event was. And wow, you must have been going crazy with all these arrivals and locations. Kudos to you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 4, 2019 — 8:26 pm

      Yes, I feel like I’ve been out of circulation a little bit. As always, I’m trying to find the right balance between blogging and all of the other things I enjoy doing. One blessing is I’ve had plenty of time to read. I bought several books from many of the children’s authors who were here. I’ll try to get back with the program now, Debby.😎

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good for you Pete. 🙂

        Like

  15. This is such a neat, neat idea! Where do you get funding to do this?

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    1. petespringerauthor November 7, 2019 — 10:33 am

      It’s mostly through grants and donations from community partners. Since it only comes around once every couple of years, it is sustainable through hard work and support within the community.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Fabulous post, Pete! 🙂

    Like

    1. petespringerauthor November 9, 2019 — 8:14 pm

      Thank you, Kevin.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. What an amazing and incredible project Pete and the children and I am sure the authors too, will talk about and remember the experience for many years to come. I am also sure that among the audience there will be budding authors who will in their turn come back to the schools to share their books. You must be very tired, not just from the amount of work involved but also the stress elements, but also an incredible sense of pride of what you and the group achieved. I will share on Tuesday in the Blogger Daily.

    Like

    1. petespringerauthor November 10, 2019 — 6:57 pm

      I feel a lot of pride in my community for supporting such a good thing. Yes, it was a lot of work and responsibility, but I’ll do it again in a heartbeat. Thanks for the share, and I am so looking forward to reading your piece about marketing tips.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. What a wonderful project and a great opportunity to participate in it. Also, a lot of hard work but it is well worth it. Thanks for sharing the experience, Pete.

    Like

  19. petespringerauthor November 13, 2019 — 9:11 am

    Thank you, Olga. It was an enriching experience. I’ll be part of it again. In the future, I hope to take part as an author. I took the liberty to read your About Page and look at some of your books. You’ve had quite an interesting professional life! I wish you continued success with your writing.

    Like

  20. Wonderful way to reach out… Kudos to all! 🙂

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    1. petespringerauthor November 13, 2019 — 3:19 pm

      Thanks, Bette. This committee is one of the best groups I’ve volunteered to be on. Everyone contributes to a good cause.

      Like

  21. What a wonderful event to be a part of–although I do feel a wee bit wistful that the elementary schools I attended as a child did nothing of the sort.

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    1. petespringerauthor November 15, 2019 — 10:55 pm

      That’s unfortunate, Liz, although I don’t have any memory of anything like that when I attended school either.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I’ll just be happy for the children today who do!

        Like

  22. What an awesome experience! I love the way you jump into stuff. And how flexible with the nasty power outages. I imagine all those involved appreciated your literally going the extra mile!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 19, 2019 — 9:12 pm

      I had great role models. My parents were doers and people who gave of themselves to their community and church. This was such a natural fit for me because I believe in the power of literacy. It happens biennially, and I know I’ll be back as it was a great experience. It would be an honor to participate as an author instead of a volunteer, but I’m taking one thing at a time. I have this sappy dream of someday reading one of my books to my future grandchild. (Mind you, this is all fantasy as our son isn’t even married yet.) 😃

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love it! You are blessed to have had that background and have also shared your gifts with so many. I believe you’re going to be very successful in your writing endeavors. We’re still waiting on grandkids, but we have the advantage of our son being married!

        Liked by 1 person

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