My First School Visit Went Like This...

Such an exhausting day.  Gonna invest in a robot that carries large, lead-heavy boxes of books.  Or a husband.  Thankfully there was Dad.

Morgan, UT - I grew up right beneath that "M."  Ish.
My hometown school - Morgan Elementary - hosted my visit.  I saw teachers I still remember, including my own beloved 1st-grade teacher Mrs. Tyrrell (who made this whole thing possible).

I entered the school office.  "Hi. I'm the visiting author for the day."  Did that just come out of my mouth?

"Oh hi!  Are you ready for your stack of orders?"

I tried on some more confidence. "Yes." I wonder if they believe me.

They handed me the foot-tall stack of beautiful babies and showed me to a cozy room where I sat to sign a pile of published books for the very first time. Bliss.

Next, I set up the presentation in the empty gym. Everything was prepared just as I requested - doc camera, projector, screen, desk, etc. Sitting alone in the gym, I soon discovered the projector cord did not match anything on my laptop.

Oh, snap.


The night before, I googled "how to school visit author," and I happened to read, "Be prepared for anything to go wrong!"  Kids puking front row, power going out, computers shutting down, fire drills mid-speech, etc.  Immediately, I prepared my emotions and mental state.

Return to assembly.

Oh, snap.  

As teachers and students filed in, and reality hit--I'm about to do an assembly--I explained to someone about the cord.  Teachers set out to solve the problem. In the meantime, I announced I would momentarily skip the book reading, (and my entire perfectly prepared powerpoint presentation) for now, and talk about other things.

The room continued to fill with kindergarteners through third graders, who surrounded me in rows on the floor.  The gym echoed loud with child-chatter.  What would a cool author do at this point?  I sat down and got to know a few kids, asking names.  They were so sweet and so CUTE.

Finally, genuine excitement arrived.

Feeling confident now, I returned to my chair with an idea.

I put a paper under the doc camera and wrote, "Hi everyone."  They could see my hand and my writing projected on the large screen.  I heard a few "hi's", and suddenly little hands were waving throughout the gym.  Cool.  I waved back. Next, I wrote, "Everyone make a silly face."  Terrific silly faces and giggling filled the gym.  I pulled a silly face too.  This is awesome.

The room grew quiet again as Mrs. Tyrrell stood to introduce me.

After a very, very kind introduction, which included "Ginny was one of my favorite students" (aw shucks), I finally had the mic.

We never got the laptop to work, which means I didn't show them the process of writing my book, or art I made as a kid, or read my book on a big screen.  But I still had a blast and ended up drawing through my entire presentation.  I drew the mountain with the "M" on it, the river I played in, the grasshoppers I use to catch just around the block, and even drew the ninja turtles I drew at their age. I'm from your hometown. If I can do this, so can you!

I talked about using shapes.  I drew a picture of Hippo from my book, starting with basic shapes.  Then I discussed drawing from our imagination.

"I need an animal, tell me an animal!"  A million hands and voices exploded.  I couldn't make out a single word.  I pretended to hear frog and wrote it down.  "Okay, one more!"  Again, not a word. "Okay, lion!  Great!"  I wrote it down.  "Let's draw a frog-lion!"  I drew a frog-lion, and they watched and giggled and helped me know how to draw it.

Finally, I stood and read my book aloud, holding it up high at an arm's length.  Half the kids probably couldn't see it very well from far away, but they heard the text and I think they got the idea.  Turns out I have most the story memorized, thankfully, since I couldn't see it.

I finished with a few stories about when I acted like Hippo, doing and saying things I didn't mean just so my friends would like me.  Like the time I ate dirt, when I was their age. True story.

"Everyone say, I AM CHOOSING TO BE ME!"  They repeated with vigor and offered a round of applause.  Thank you, my wonderful young friends.

It was roughly presented, and I know I talked much too fast.  (I watched a video of me later - thanks to my sweet sister-in-law who recorded me)  But, it was my first and I know how to improve for next time.

I enjoyed every second with the kids.  They were SO cute and kind.  They waved as they left, gave me high fives, and waved again when they saw me later that night. I was invited to "Literacy Night" that evening, and also to Ridley's grocery store for a book signing.

The book signing was awesome - I was 15 minutes late though, due to the fun I was having with the kids surrounding my table at Literacy Night (where I was also selling books) giggling as I drew pictures for them.  I saw a lot of good friends and neighbors at Ridley's as well as enthusiastic strangers and friends of friends.

Thanks, Morgan.  Thanks, parents.  Thanks, family and friends for all your help!


  1. Dear Ginny,

    Congratulations on your first school visit! I can tell you from experience that the visits get easier as you do more and more of these events. I love these visits also. I'm very happy that your first visit went so well. Best wishes!

    Janet Heller
    Author of two poetry books, a scholarly book, and the award-winning book for kids about bullying, How the Moon Regained Her Shape (Sylvan Dell, hardback--2006, paperback--2007, e-book, audio, and Spanish edition--2008, 3rd paperback edition and iPad app--2012)
    Website is

    1. Thank you Janet!!! It really did go very well. I'm glad too :) and glad to hear it gets easier!!

  2. So fantastically awesome Ginny! You're doing great!

  3. Congrats Ginny!!! I always knew you would go far in what you did. I have ALWAYS admired your artistic ability. I plan to purchase your book as soon as we have a bit of extra fundage around Christmas. Way to go, and I hope this isn't the only book you write!!

    1. Hmmm... is Fraass your married name? I'd love to know which Amber you are that I know... wait I shall fb you.... Oh AMBER!!! Thanks, sweet friend, that means a lot! :) I hope you are doing well!


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