Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation united two My Home Library partners: Bear Creek Elementary School and LongTale Publishing for an Author Presentation with Joy Saxton.
Courtesy of Joy Saxton
The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation gave me the opportunity to read the book I wrote and illustrated, Joy and the Far Away Land, to over 130 students at Bear Creek Elementary, Katy ISD. The Foundation gives 6 BOOKS TO EVERY CHILD IN THE SCHOOL via its My Home Library program and I am so thrilled to be one of the books on the list for selection!
My book is a true story of my childhood experience, traveling to the far away land. After I read the story aloud, the students and I talked about the book’s message. We discussed the importance of loving one another, while explaining that kids are just like them around the world.
During our group discussion, I asked the kids why it’s important to love one another, and a boy in first grade stood up and said: “If all the kids love one another, then there will be no more wars in the world, and there will be peace.”
A girl in second grade said, "We might be different on the outside, but we are the same on the inside." I then asked the students: “How are we more similar than different to other kids?” One boy stood up and said, “Sometimes a kid might have different hair than you.” I asked, “What do you do in that instance?” He said: “You go play with someone else.” I said, "Oh... can we talk further about this?" He agreed. He was a very brave boy because we were having a conversation in front of 130 kids and teachers, with a microphone, mind you. I explained first that the puppet on my arm has different hair, and even I have different hair than he does. I said there’s a lot of different hair so “can we play together?” He thought about it, and took the mic to say he would like to play, even with kids whose hair is different; he didn't actually think hair mattered that much. I praised him for standing up to the microphone and for sharing his viewpoint, and did not pressure him to respond any specific way. I told all of the students, “If we don’t play with someone because they look different than we lose the chance to make a new friend.”
The magic of a children’s book is it teaches an important life lesson, like loving one another despite our differences. I feel if I can convey this good message than I got my job done for the day.
One of my favorite things is letting the kids ask questions which tend to be insightful and curious. I always like to share with students that the first book I wrote was when I was in school in my Language Arts Class and our assignment was to write and illustrate a kids book. My teacher, Mr. Russell inspired me, many years ago, to write my book.
I just want to say the students at Bear Creek were so kind, and thoughtful and well-behaved. It was a wonderful school, and the Librarian Ms. Anna Baker was the best! It is evident how committed she is to reading and encouraging her students. I feel honored to be there that day.