Last week, I received a very shocking email from the reading specialist at a charter school in SLC. He explained that since September is Hispanic Heritage Month, the school was participating in the  International Reading Association’s Read-In Chain, and as a Hispanic writer, they would love to have me go to the school and read to the kids. When I first read this I panicked. After all, I’m not even published, and I write YA novels, but Jeff said, “Why not? You’ll love it!” So I said yes.
I was very nervous preparing what to read, what books to take along with me. I realized that there are not a lot of Hispanic authors who write in Spanish for children, and that gave an inspiration for after my current work-in-progress is ready.
I chose the Juan Ramon Jimenez’s classic “Platero y Yo” because all through my childhood that little book was an inspiration for me, and was responsible for my having fallen in love with lyric prose.
I also chose “La Ciudad de las Bestias,” first book of the series for children by the international acclaimed Isabel Allende. Also, very humbly, I included two of my short stories: “The Newborn Fairy,” and “Teenage Warrior.”
My kids were very proud that their mama was a guest speaker (reader) at a school, and they announced this to every person they talked to today. They’re my #1 PR people. When I’m published, I’m going to hire them to be my marketing directors.
After a sickening slow commute (there were two traffic accidents on the way), I arrived at the school, and I was trying not to pass out of nervousness, but I met the reading specialist, who was so very nice, and all the teachers were very kind to me.
I went to the library, and I read my stories and excerpts from the books I had brought to the younger classes. The kindergartens were together, and then I read to first, second and third grade. All the children were so respectful and attentive while I read, that I tried to do my best to provide a good experience for them. The kids had made a welcome poster and flowers, and they sang a welcome song in Spanish while they waved the Argentine flags they had made (*tears*). They asked very intelligent questions, like where I get my ideas from, when my books are being published, if I write everything that goes on in my life, how old I was, etc.
Then it was time for the older classes, and I went to three different classrooms to read my stories. The school is a Spanish immersion academy, so especially with the older kids I spoke Spanish. There were several children, of the younger and older classes, who told me, “I’m from Uruguay!” “I”m from Argentina too!”
In every class, in every group I met, I saw intelligent, kind, beautiful children who have such a bright future ahead of them, and for whom my visit may have been a source of inspiration. I know that if only one of those children was inspired to read and write, and to never give up, then that visit is more than worth the nerves. For me it meant so much! That they would ask me to go and talk to them is a very humbling and touching experience. I know that every time doubts assault me, I will see those children’s faces looking at me with admiration (!), and that after today, I’ll never be able to give up my dream of becoming a true author, meaning, having my work published.
So my next step is to continue working, finishing my work-in-progress before November because I already have a spectacular idea for NaNoWriMo.
And now, I’ll enjoy some of the delicious chocolate that the school presented to me as a gift. They’re all mine; I even hid them in my closet!

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5 responses to “How I was asked to do my first ever school visit as a writer and how it went”

  1. Stacy says:

    I bet the kids loved you! I hope you get published soon! You are very talented!

  2. Gary Corby says:

    That's fantastic! What a kind person you are. Sounds like it was huge fun.

  3. What a great experience. It sounds like you left a positive impression on them too. Good for you.

  4. Wow! I'm so proud of you. You are the most qualified, well-read person I know, so I'm sure your presentation was fantastic. I'm also glad that this experience inspired you as a writer. I just know you'll be published some day!

  5. Yamile says:

    Thank you all for your support! I always get a warm, fuzzy feeling when I read comments.

Yamile Saied Mendez

Yamile (sha-MEE-lay) Saied Méndez is a fútbol-obsessed Argentine-American, Picture Book, Middle Grade, and Young Adult author.

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