Monthly Archives: October 2013

What I learned About School Visits

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In the past two weeks, I have visited two elementary schools. In many ways, these visits couldn’t have been more different. Yet, there were some similarities. At one school, I talked to a group of 60 fifth graders in the school assembly room; at the other school, I met with a class of first grader.

The fifth graders had just completed a publishing assignment using classroom computers and were celebrating their achievement. They were interested in hearing about my book writing process from first idea to publication. I spoke from a podium and had a mike (which I ignored).

With the first graders, I read one of my stories, The Mysterious Case of the Missing Birthday Cake in their classroom from a comfy chair, a more intimate and congenial atmosphere.

In each instance, the children were attentive and asked good questions or shared interesting comments. Here are a few things I learned from these experiences:

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l. Be prepared. Have supplies, examples, etc. available at my fingertips so I’m not fumbling around looking for what I need while talking.

2. Be flexible. I wasn’t aware that I would be talking with the fifth graders in an assembly room with podium and mike. Fortunately, they all were able to see my visuals and hear me.

3. Bring something for the students to take home to remember the visit. I brought  bookmarks, with pictures of my Oak Tree Press books and email address to both groups.  Hopefully, some of the students or families will order my other books. Teachers like to pass these out themselves later. With the first graders, I left a copy of each of my Oak Tree Press books for the class.

4. Engage the students in conversation. I try not to talk too long without asking them a question. When taking about where I find my story ideas with the fifth graders, I started out by asking how many didn’t like vegetables. There was an overwhelming show of hands. I followed by talking about how my book, Ants on a Log, was a true story about my son who when young hated vegetables. With the first graders, I asked how many would like to fly with butterflies when showing them my book, Butterfly Girls. Again, a show of many hands. I find if the children participate, they feel comfortable in asking questions and making their own comments, and we have more of a conversation rather than a lecture.

5. Don’t talk too long. Children, especially the little ones, have a short attention span and can only sit still for a limited period of time. I watch my audience and gage my presentation to match their abilities. Naturally, the fifth graders can listen and pay attention longer than the first graders.

6. Be friendly. I always smile and engage the children in conversation when I first meet them. With some of the fifth graders, I asked them what kinds of books they liked to read and how many had read Harry Potter. With the first graders, I mentioned briefly that I have four grandchildren, ages three to nine and ask how many were seven years old. This exercise developed a connection between us, and the children seem to feel more comfortable in asking questions and making comments.

7. Keep control of the conversation. Sometimes children like to tell too many of their own stories, and this gets our conversation off track. I try not to call on the same children more than a couple of times and to bring the conversation back to the agenda if we stray.  Yet, I always like to hear their questions and comments. This shows me that they are listening, engaged and are learning something.

8. Leave with a smile and a thank you.

Naturally, when speaking with adults, there is less concern about attention span. However, here too, I like to engage my audience more in a conversation than a lecture.

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November Events

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November Events.I will be participating in the following events in November:

    November 2 – Butterfly Sanctuary in Pismo Beach from 10 to 2. I’ll be demonstrating and teaching folding accordion books to be used by children to draw and write information about Monarch butterflies.

    November 9 – At the Curious Cup Bookstore in Carpinteria, I’ll be participating in their grand opening at their new location at 5285 Carpinteria Ave from 11 am to 3 pm. I will be teaching a class in accordion book folding and demonstrating. 

    November 30 – At the Curious Cup Bookstore, I’l be participating in their book sale event. Hours to be announced.

    Drop by either location and say Hi.  Beryl

November Events

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I will be participating in the following events in November:

    November 2 – Butterfly Sanctuary in Pismo Beach from 10 to 2. I’ll be demonstrating and teaching folding accordion books to be used by children to draw and write information about Monarch butterflies.

    November 9 – At the Curious Cup Bookstore in Carpinteria, I’ll be participating in their grand opening at their new location at 5285 Carpinteria Ave from 11 am to 3 pm. I will be teaching a class in accordion book folding and demonstrating. 

    November 30 – At the Curious Cup Bookstore, I’l be participating in their book sale event. Hours to be announced.

    Drop by either location and say Hi.  Beryl

Butterfly Girls Review

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Butterfly Girls by Beryl Reichenberg “How does a Monarch Butterfly teach two young girls how to fly?” Well, if you want to find out, I suggest reading Beryl’s picture book published by Oak Tree Press…. This lovely book tells a story of two girls discovering the beauty and magic of the butterflies. I recommend this book for children ages 3 and up. Here’s a link to Beryl’s website where you can find more information: http://www.berylreichenberg.com

Reviewed by Lily Erlic

Writing for Children, http://www.Childrensauthorbook.blogspot.ca

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Creativity Has Many Forms

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Mayan BasktCreating is as important to me as eating and sleeping. I am an artist as well as an author and illustrator of children’s books. When I become tired of being a wordsmith and sitting at the computer, I rest my brain by creating a new handmade paper basket or book art form or photo collage.  I find, the new activity feeds back into my writing, whether freeing a road block or generating new ideas and directions. It’s as if my mind is on idle or cruise control for a while, as my hands are busy and my focus is elsewhere. Some of you may cook or sew or garden to exercise your creative spirit when not writing. Whatever other activity you choose, it serves to refocus your attention.

My writing brain is not totally disengaged, however. Working in the background, it is just not under pressure to find that perfect turn of a phrase or description or that intriguing plot twist.  I’ve turned off my computer or put my pen down, unchaining my mind, allowing it to roam free.  In those moments, new connections are made and new ideas are developed. When I restart my computer, the words flow freely again.

I wonder if you have had the same experience and what activities you use to free your creative spirit.

Beryl Reichenberg, Children’s Book Author and Illustrator and Artist

View my children’s books at http://www.berylreichenberg.com or http://www.Amazon.com

View my Fiber Art and other art pieces at http://www.berylreichenbergart.com

Twelve Questions – See How I Answer Them

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Holli Castillo in her blog post http://www.gumbojustice.blogspot.com asked me twelve questions and posted my answers. She is posting similar questions and answers from other Oak Tree Press authors over the coming weeks. Visit her blob site and see how other authors answers these questions. Oh, by the way Holli has a wonderful sense of humor. BerylImage

Websites Updates

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I’ve just updated my two websites: http://www.berylreichenberg.com for children’s books and http://www.berylreichenbergart.com for my art and sculptural pieces. Now my children’s book website includes a section on reviews as well as news, and the art site pictures have been rearranged. Visit both at your leisure. Thanks, Beryl

New Review of Children’s Book, The Mysterious Case of the Missing Birthday Cake

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NEED A BIRTHDAY PRESENT FOR A CHILD

I admit I don’t usually read children’s books, although I peruse quite a few when my dog and I do pet therapy in the pediatric wards of a local hospital. This one The Mysterious Case of the Missing Birthday Cake by Beryl Reichenberg caught my eye. It’s obvious the author/illustrator was a teacher. I loved the illustrations, which were colorful hand drawings of the cute forest characters (like Freda Frog, Rocky Raccoon, and Bobby Bear) superimposed on photos. The one sentence lesson at the end was perfect way to tie up the story for a child of two to eight. This book would make a wonderful birthday present for a boy or girl.

 

Reviewed by Mystery Writer, Janet Greger. Author of Murder: A New Way to Lose WeightImage