On Thursday 12th October 2017 I arrived at The Oldhall School in Wellington for my first official Children’s Author visit. As I stepped into the reception area, I felt the excitement building and I could not wait to meet the children and share my story. I was greeted by the School Secretary, Jane Hardy and she made me feel very welcome and made me a cup of tea. I set up the tables, my props and my author banner. As I looked around the hall, I realised this was what I had been waiting for….I was about to read my very own story to a Reception Class and then a Year 1 Class! I had talked about wanting to become a children’s author and how it would feel to be able to inspire children with my writing. I found myself right in the very place that I had dreamed of, for such a long time!
At 9.30 am, a very excited Reception Class entered the hall and sat down in a semi-circle. The teachers introduced themselves and sat down ready for me to begin. I started by introducing myself and explained that I was going to take the children on a magical adventure! I introduced them to the star of the story……Douglas. I asked questions about how old they thought he was? Where did they think the setting of the story was? We looked at the different props on the table. There was a treasure box with a lock and key, some binoculars, a bird spotting book, some magical stars, a letter to a Headteacher and the story ‘Douglas’s Trousers’. I asked the children what they thought might be in the treasure box? The children came up with the most incredible answers, it could be diamonds, gold coins, crowns, jewellery and pearls. This built up the anticipation for the children and they couldn’t wait to hear the story. Next I asked who the binoculars belonged to and again there were some fantastic answers. “An explorer”, “Douglas’s own”, “they are old – so someone very old”. After talking through the children’s ideas about what the story might be about, I began reading my book!
The children sat beautifully and were thoroughly engaged in the magical adventure. I used Douglas to bring the story to life and moved him around as if he were flying high in the sky. I attached sparkly stars to his trousers, which made them look really magical! When it came to the part in the story about the treasure box, I asked the children if they would like to take a glimpse of what was inside and they were so delighted! I carefully pulled out of the socks the magic potions and showed them the brightly coloured, glittery potions in the glass bottles. I felt a little bit of magic happen! The children started using their imaginations and really believed that these were Douglas’s Grandad’s magic potions! ‘Wow!’ gasped the children. Next, I pulled out an assortment of coloured feathers and recipes wrapped up into scrolls with ribbon tied tightly around them. I read out the flying potion spell and the children looked up at me with such excited emotion!
As I continued to read the story the children listened and were completely captivated by the rhyming adventure. As I finished the story, I asked the children to talk to the person next to them and discuss their favourite part. This was incredible to hear the children’s comments. “I liked the magic potion part the best!” I liked it when Douglas was able to fly!” “I liked the part when the helicopters came!” “I liked every part of the story!” This was truly the best feeling for me, my book was a hit with all of the children and I could see the happiness on each of the children’s faces.
After talking about the book, I began telling my own personal story of how I became an author. I told them the story of how I loved teaching children, but what I loved more than anything was reading and writing stories for children. I loved it so much that I wanted to be able to do it all the time! I told the children how I met a wonderful lady called Lorna McCann, who came to help out while I was teaching and she told me all about ‘Team Author UK’ the company that helped me to self-publish my book. I talked about my journey, of how I had the idea for Douglas’s Trousers when my school was being threatened with closure. Luckily my Primary School didn’t close and I based the book around my own experience and a little boy that I used to teach.
Next I explained how I start to write my stories and that sometimes they can take weeks and sometimes months. I showed the children the notebooks that I use to write down my ideas and that it is alright to cross out and re-write things until it sounds right! I then gave the children some top tips if they wanted to become an author.
Finally I asked the children if they had any questions. The children came up with some fantastic ones. How do you write your ideas down? How does it get made into a book? Can you come back and read another story? Did you make the magic potions for Douglas? I absolutely loved answering their questions.
The children finished by giving me a round of applause and 3 cheers! Then I got to repeat my author talk after break-time to the Year 1 children, which was another fantastic experience!
The staff were so very welcoming and the feedback they gave was fantastic!
I asked: Did the children enjoyed the session : “The children were engaged and enjoyed it very much.” Chris Hurd (Reception Teacher & Head of Early Years.) “Yes, very much. I was really pleased with the links they made with our class read ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine'”. Helen Guy (Year 1 Teacher & Head of Lower School.)
“Thank you for coming to our school to read your story to the children. They were enthralled.” Chris Hurd
Would you book Sarah again? “Yes, I would be interested in hearing about Sarah’s next book, ‘George and Maude’ in Spring 2018.” Helen Guy
The whole experience is one I will never forget. It was a pleasure to share my book with the Children at Oldhall School and I can’t wait to return next year and share my next book George and Maude with everyone!