Just returned from an amazing trip to Wisconsin. Let me tell you, Wisconsin loves writers! As a writer, I can say (and I’m pretty sure I’m speaking for all writers) that it makes a big difference if you talk to an audience of students who have actually read your book. It’s a lot harder to connect with them about the story when they have no idea what it is. In beautiful La Crosse, Wisconsin, I spoke to high school students who had ALL read the book (yes, thousands of students). And so had the teachers. And the faculty. And a lot of the public at large. Wow! What a treat!
AND they incorporated all kinds of events into this “One Book, One Community” event, involving the local library, the technical college, you name it. Kids wrote plays and made videos based on my book, they constructed wooden chests like the one in the story, they sang with cognitively disabled youth (who learned sign language so they could accompany the singers) — it was unbelievable.
Can I just say a couple of things to Governor Walker of Wisconsin?
If you think you spend too much on your teachers and school system, please go visit some schools in your state. And then go to some other states and you’ll soon see that you get what you pay for. Your students are functioning at a higher level than what you’ll find in some other states. And if you think you’re paying your teachers too much, I would argue that you’re not paying them enough. I’ve seen what they do. And how early they get up. And how late they stay after school. And how they spend their own money to buy books, supplies and, yes, even food, for their students. And I stayed with some teachers in your state. They live in very average neighborhoods and generally drive older cars than the students. It’s not exactly a dream job. They do it because they love it and they’re trying to make a brighter future for all of us.
OK, that was more than a couple of things. And I’d like to say more. But I’ll stop there because, as they say, a picture says a thousand words: