After a rousing assembly led by Tom ("T-Bone") Stankus, students split up to a series of workshops led by people who use words in their careers---journalists, writers, illustrators, musicians, lyricists, publishers, etc. After the workshops, the organizers served the presenters a yummy lunch, and we got to admire baked cakes, cookies and other edibles (which we didn't eat) created by students and inspired by books. The afternoon assembly included skits based on students' favorite books.
At my workshops, I met dozens of terrific students. I talked about writing and publishing books. I told them that when I was a kid, I was miserable at spelling and was basically a math geek. But I was also a storyteller. Some of these stories were out-and-out lies---which got me in real trouble. But I also told and wrote stories for my family. Eventually, I parlayed my habit of telling stories into writing.
One of the great things about talking to students is that it reminds me of what it was like to be a kid. I was describing how much I love to read, and remembered the day in first grade when I realized I could decode words. I had read "crocodile" and "hippopotamus," and it felt as if something magical had just happened. It was the beginning of my lifelong fascination with words.
The students asked some good questions, too---like whether it bothered me that I had to revise what I wrote. My answer: not really---truly. No one likes hearing that what they've created needs work. But the revisions made what I wrote better, much better. And I am glad that someone took the time to help me improve the stories I created.
There were some other very talented folk a Word Up Day. I was fortunate to spend time at lunch with Leslie Connor, Sarah Darer-Littman, Scott Ingram, and James Benn. And I also ran into Lauren Agnelli, although we didn't get much of a chance to chat.
The day could not have run this smoothly without the time and effort of Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School's friendly and dedicated staff, and the group of helpful student volunteers. Thank you all!