My First Autograph Session Reading to Kids

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Categories: On Writing and Publishing, Through the Rug

What experiences have you had while reading your books to kids?

Jill Vanderwood talks about her first ever live school reading and autograph session.

Through the Rug was my first published book. The first version came out in 2006

My granddaughter Savanna was ten when I finished writing Through the Rug. I mentioned to her that, “When the book is published, I can read to classes at school.” She went to her teacher the next day and told her I wrote a book. I got a phone call saying, “Grandma, my teacher wants you to read to our class tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?” I asked.

I called the teacher and told her the book wasn’t published. She said, “Well can’t you print it out from the computer?”

I printed out the book and began reading to the fifth-grade class. This gave me insight into what the kids did or didn’t like about the book. I thought the main character was ten-year-old Alyssa. But found out that Grandma Emma’s dog, Domino was their favorite character.

While waiting for the book to be published, I had made a pink and green stuffed Domino dog. I also made a green and purple dog—he turns green and purple after swimming in the blue lake. And then, of course, I also made the black and white version of Domino. The kids loved to hold the dogs while I was reading.

Each time I read a few chapters to the class; the kids would clap for me. The teacher, who pretended to be busy, also got excited about the story.

When we got to the scene of the Ish Ka Billy song, we sang that together. I had fish hats for the kids, and I also made two large fish costumes that kids took turns wearing, during the song. The first time we did the ‘hoochy goochy dance,’ my granddaughter Savanna said, “Grandma, that was so embarrassing!”

I said, “Savanna, I know I don’t sing very well.”

She said, “No, Grandma! You wiggled your hips in front of my whole class!”

After I was finished reading the printout of the book, I had the kids write what they thought about Through the Rug. I then asked the publisher to add those comments in the front of the book.

When the first book arrived in the mail, it was the next to last day of school. On the last day of school, I took the book in to the class I had been reading to. I was able to show them the finished book. I opened the book and read the comments they had made, right from the book. I was sitting at the front of the class and felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and saw that kids were lining up behind me. “Will you sign my t-shirt?” one girl asked.

“Mine too!” was repeated over and over.

I had my first autograph session, signing my name on the backs of kids with a magic marker!

The Ish Ka Billy Song

Did you ever see a fishy on a bright summer day?
Did you ever see a fishy swimming up and down the bay?
With his hands in his pockets and his pockets in his pants.
Did you ever see a fishy do the hoochy-goochy dance?
You never did. You never will.
Ish Ka Billy oaten doeten ba-bos,
Ska-dilly oaten.
Ish Ka Billy oaten doeten ba-bos,
Ska-dilly oaten.

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