One school where reading isn’t treated like a chore is Bank Street School in NYC. Margaret Wise Brown, the author of The Runaway Bunny and Goodnight Moon and other books I read to my kids (and now read to my grandkids) became a children’s book writer at Bank Street School. Little Golden Books (remember The Poky Little Puppy ?) was partly born there. I loved having my feet touch those floors…I loved meeting this charmer whose name was Pumpkin or Prickles or some such.
I loved seeing the touch-taste-smell-sound-taste education still going on in the classrooms. I loved the playground (like Lanie’s school playground) up in the air. I loved seeing a tree growing right in the middle of the lobby.
At the Bank Street School store, I bought puppets–orangutan, monarch, ladybug–to help me be less nervous about going onto the stage at the LA Times Book Festival without my pictures I get to show other places.
It turned out the stage was about as intimidating as I thought it would be. Musicians were on the Target children’s stage before me. Fancy Nancy was on after me. I had no idea what I was going to do with that big ol’ crowd of families celebrating books in the sun as they watched and listened.
Luckily for me, a line of girls was crowded right up close to the stage to see Lanie, so I could ask them some questions–and show everyone my orangutan and ladybug and monarch butterfly–and let them listen to some bird calls. Astonishingly to me, I even sang a song from Ethiopia that I share with little kids in author visits.
I moved from there (with my guide…reminding me of the time I did a school visit and some 5th graders asked me, “Where did you ditch your body guards?”) to the signing tent, where the helpers graciously extended my signing time for about an hour to accomodate all those Lanie fans. Lanie has groupies. Who knew?
One of my most fun bits was getting to sign books for an old friend from Ethiopia. Even though I was thinking of Ethiopia Reads (www.ethiopiareads.org) when I made Lanie a girl who believes in the power of one person to change the world, I didn’t know my worlds would weave together in such interesting ways this spring.