Friday, November 7, 2014

Grass roof, hands-on, flying with kids in DesMoines

I spent today with about one hundred and fifty fifth graders in Des Moines at the Hands-On Book Fest, sponsored by the Des Moines Rotary Club.

The kids all received a back pack with a paperback book and a notebook and pencil. And they learned about braille books, a short history of book-making, printing (with a real printing press), illustration, paper-making. In the session with me we talked about where writers get ideas--from our families ("my grandma came from far away to make her life in Iowa;" "my brother is afraid of snakes"); from what we wish we could do ("fly," "go to Hawaii," "be invisible"). All those ideas could be great stories--and so could the others I heard.  As I drove home I decided I can't be pessimistic about the future when I see kids who are so open to discussion, to being engaged, to imagining flying.  I hope some of them will spend the weekend reading their new books and writing about flying or invisibility, or an adventure in Adventureland.

When I went to observe the braille book area I learned that five of my books are printed in Braille. And that was a thrill!

Snowflake Bentley in Braille

raised snowflakes in the Braille edition
The students were given a handout of the Braille alphabet. They wrote their names in Braille and made relief pictures, such as the snowflakes on the right, that are in the Braille edition of Snowflake Bentley.

Now for some Thanks:
 -to DeAnn Thompson of the Des Moines Rotary Club who let me know exactly where I needed to be and when--and who gave me a very cool book-fest t-shirt
 -to Richard Early, Executive Director of the Des Moines Symphony, also a Rotary Club member, who drove me to the event and back to my car with stops to check out the Des Moines Public Library's grass roof as well as a Des Moines restaurant--Hoq--which sources 90% of the food used in its meals locally.

Library's grass roof as seen through a window in the former Masonic temple, home of the DesMoines Symphony.

It's all connected--stories about what we are passionate about such as schoolyard gardens, locally-sourced foods, urban farmers like Farmer Will Allen, libraries with grass roofs and greening urban areas, kids in urban areas who have ideas who want to share them, kids who want to fly.

I surely hope they will.  I'll be thinking of them and rooting for them.  And if flying is possible today's Hands On Book Fest will make it more likely.

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