Just a few weeks ago, I was able to assist with a Skype call between a 7th grade classroom and author Tom Angleberger, who wrote The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. The book follows the exploits of a middle school student who creates a paper finger puppet of Yoda. The other members of the class begin to ask Yoda for advice about various situations and in true Yoda fashion, the advice is always the wisest course of action.
The book is very funny, and really captures the situations that middle school students face in their school days. The author of the book also has a great sense of humor, which really showed through during our 30 minute Skype visit.
The author talked to our students about the book and about his love for reading. He shared some of his favorite authors of young adult fiction and asked the students what they were reading. He mentioned several authors that our students had not heard of or tried yet, such as Lloyd Alexander. Our students also asked him some questions about what it was like to be an author, such as –
Where did he get his ideas from ?
What did he do before being published ?
Are any of the characters based on people he knows in real life ?
What does he like about being a writer ?
Tom Angleberger answered all of these questions in humorous fashion, while asking several students to do a Wookie impersonation.( only one student would do one ) Amazing how some of the students who can be the most animated and extroverted turn completely quiet while in a conversation with a guest speaker. Tom really stressed with the students the importance of reading. He said he didn’t care what they read, but if they weren’t reading something to get to the library and try out a book. He encouraged them to try different authors and genres on the chance that they find something they really like that maybe they wouldn’t have picked up before. Tom also told the students that one of the best things to do to improve your writing is to read more. He explained that reading is one the most important things he does in his writing career. I have to admit that I found the Skype visit with Tom to be very motivating. I was ready to head to the library to check out some different authors, and I am already a fairly avid reader! Tom was even nice enough to send the class an advance copy of his next book.
Our students got to hear about the writing process from someone who makes their living from it. As we strive to show students the real world connections between what they learn and real life applications, what could be more powerful than having a published author talk to a 7th grade Language Arts class? Any aspiring writers in that classroom were able to see that their dream of becoming an author is attainable, with hard work and perseverance.