March 29, 2013


Last week found me in Fort Worth, TX doing a series of school visits.

My first host, Maggie, and I began the week by walking a lovely trail along the Trinity River.

We made a new friend along the way . . .

Mark and Maggie

Mark and Donna

Then the fun, er, work began the next day at Trinity Valley School . . .

I spoke to 7th and 8th graders in an auditorium, an eager group of creative writing students and 5th and 6th graders.

Donna with Trinity Valley Students

Alex, Donna and Anna

What a delightful day!

The next couple days I spent with Paula Tyler of the Fort Worth Library Foundation.  Paula is brilliant and gracious.  She advocates for young people in need in so many ways.  I learned much from her and her husband, Ron.

We visited SIX schools over two days.

The kids were amazing!  One group of eager young readers at Sellars Elementary gathered round while I spoke in the library from a rocking chair.  Afterward, they ran up for hugs and autographs, and one little girl timidly approached and said, "I made this for you last night . . ."

Books Bracelet, being modeled by son's friend, Mercedes

I wore that bracelet every day and showed it to the students at every school. 

The next day, we learned that these enthusiastic young book club members weren't the strongest readers in the school.  For the most part, they were the students who needed the most help with their reading skills.  Each of them read at least one of my books.  They had excellent questions and were wholly engaged.  What a testament to the power of a dedicated, creative, caring school librarian.  I'm talking to you, Ms. Johnson!  Your group of students were an author's dream!

At Wedgewood Sixth Grade School, the daughter of school librarian, Cheryll Falcone, created this amazing illustration of Hammy the Hamster from How to Survive Middle School.

Donna, Cheryll Falcone, Hammy the Hamster and Paula Tyler.

My last school visit was with the lovely ladies at the Young Women's Leadership Academy.  These serious, dedicated, smiling girls inspired me much more than I ever could have inspired them.  What a spectacular experience!  I wish I had a photo of the sea of enthusiastic young women in their red school shirts.   Several e-mailed me later to tell me of the books they were writing!

Between the school visits, Paula gave me a tour of Fort Worth.

We visited the Fort Worth Botanic Garden . . .

We visited the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.  Fabulous!

And we ate . . .

Grilled raviolis and spinach salad at Lili's

My only regret is that I didn't have a book to put in the hand of every eager student who asked after the presentation how s/he could get a book.  It's hard to see kids who are so excited about reading not have enough access to the books they want to read.

My host, Paula, said the Library Foundation would provide some copies to the school libraries that needed them.

I wished these kids could have their OWN books -- something I could never afford as a kid.

It made me grateful for organizations like Kids in Need -- Books in Deed, created by Julianna Baggott and David Scott.  These wonderful folks will be providing a book for EVERY student at my upcoming visit to a Title I school in Palm Beach County next month. 

I'm thankful I said "YES" when invited to Fort Worth last year.  I thoroughly enjoyed my experiences in Texas, my gracious hosts and the wonderful librarians, educators and children I had the great pleasure to meet.  

No comments: