May 9, 2013

Author’s Tea

 By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

Author's Tea is a program for elementary age students where family is invited in to hear their children read their written word while viewing it on a screen behind them. After the children read they serve their attending family members tea and cookies. It is a great program and one I have had the pleasure of attending.

Another program is Reading Time and having a guest reader. A parent, grandparent or guest will come in and read during their reading time. There is then a Q&A afterwards. I recently had the honor of being the guest reader for my granddaughter Lana’s 2nd grade class.

Lana had invited us for lunch and to stay for Reading Time as the guest reader. The teacher had been given a book of short stories about pets, in which was one of my shorts. I politely suggested the teacher read it prior to me coming. I realized the school has certain guidelines. I didn’t want to be a problem for the school or Lana.

Once her grandmother and I arrived at her class we were invited in and given a book on Lorax and his concern for the environment. My short would not be read due to the story line dealing with a pet that lived full life but passed on due to a serious illness. The teacher felt it was too dramatic for the small ones. I understood.

I was seated in front of the class with my wife, Lana’s grandmother by my side, and introduced to the class by Lana’s teacher. The teacher introduced me as Lana’s grandfather and a “famous author” and here is his book. She held up the copy of the short stories on pets. I thought my ego was inflated by that until I saw the face of my granddaughter. She was beaming! I quickly looked to my wife to be sure she had kept a straight face during the introduction and was amazed to see she had. She is good to keep me in my place so that came afterwards.

I read the book about the Lorax’s concern for the environment, saving energy and some great ways to do so. The kids obviously had heard the story before and seemed to know the next line but sat quietly and appeared interested. When finished, the teacher asked if there were any questions. A little girl in the back raised her hand and said, “I didn’t know Lana had a grandfather that is a famous author.”  I did not want to say, “Nor did I” but instead took this opportunity to tell them about the anthology of the pet stories and how a portion of the proceeds benefit the local animal shelter. I then told them about Southern Writers Magazine and our mission to promote authors. I thought why spoil a good thing. After all, her teacher said it and that should be it. The other questions were about pets. No one seemed interested in what Lorax had to say.                            

I left that day a proud grandfather and a happy writer. A group of kids became interested in writing, I had an opportunity to show our books and Southern Writers Magazine and I had a beaming granddaughter.

I would suggest to you to visit your local school and see if there is an opportunity to read to the kids there. See if there is an Authors Tea. If so participate, if not assist in starting one. Share your craft, and while doing so share your book, poem or short story. Give back to your community and you may raise the interest of a child to the point they will someday be reading to their granddaughter’s class as a “Famous Author”.

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