Sunday, December 4, 2011

Skyping with Laurel Snyder

I'm a little embarrassed that this post is about three weeks overdue, but the experience was so fabulous, I had to swallow my embarrassment, and deal with it. :)

On November 15, both of my language arts classes had the amazing opportunity to experience a Skype visit with Laurel Snyder. This visit occurred after we had spent about a month reading her latest book, Bigger Than a Breadbox, aloud in class. Laurel was so warm, gracious, and personable, it felt like we were guests in her home (which by the way, we could see over her shoulder). One of my students is a huge dog lover, and when it came time to ask questions, his had nothing to do with Bigger Than a Breadbox or Laurel as a writer; he wanted to know all about her dog to whom we were introduced. She was as delighted with his question as with any that dealt more with the purpose of our visit - discussing Bigger Than a Breadbox and learning more about being an author.

First of all, if you haven't yet read Bigger Than a Breadbox, I would strongly encourage you to do so (I posted a mini-review here). This book contains so many meaty topics that just beg for deeper conversations. Second, I have to tell you how we scored this visit. Because I follow Laurel Snyder on twitter, I was immediately intrigued when she offered to do free Skype visits for the first 100 people who contacted her. As an educator who wants her children to be well versed when talking about authors and how they create, I immediately contacted Laurel. I'm thankful that twitter gives me a platform to interact with authors and other educators in ways that benefit my students.

Okay, back to my point: Laurel's Skype visit. As she talked to the students, I jotted down some things she said that I knew I would want to come back to and talk about further:
  • Authors write to know what you didn't even know you knew.
  • The main character, Rebecca, is based on her own life. She also had divorced parents.
  • In 4th grade Laurel started writing stories , but she didn't know who to share them with. She ended up sharing with her best friend, Susan. Turns out they had similar leanings for stories - fairy tales.
  • In 7th grade, her mom moved her family, and a comment from a teacher stopped her from ever wanting to share her personal writing again
  • She was an adult before she went back to writing what she loved - fairy tales.
  • But, even given that, she told the kids that sometimes you do end up being what you wanted to be in 4th grade -- hold on to your dreams!
  • It took her 49 submissions before her first book was accepted.
  • The character of Miss Adda is loosely based on her grandmother.
  • **Great advice to students -- it's the tiny details that make your story real (for those of you that know the book, this came after one of the students commented on how many details were written about Miss Adda).
  • She is currently working on a prequel to Bigger Than a Breadbox - my students were so excited, begging me to read it to them this year. Then Laurel had to explain to them the process of publishing a book takes several years. :)
These are just some of the snippets I wrote down. But you can see how powerfully my students were connected to what they considered a "real" author. After talking to Laurel, they realized they are "real" authors as well.

Thanks so much to Laurel for such an amazing visit, one we will come back to multiple times this year.


  1. WOW! My kids would be so excited to skype with an author they are familiar with!!! Too cool!

    I was at Books-a-Million yesterday and ALMOST bought this book but refrained because I already had $50 worth in my hands!! I'll have to go back and get it-along with another one I "almost" got! :)

    Is there anyway that you might be able to add an email subscription button on your blog so I could follow you easily?

    Thanks so much!


  2. Hi Shannon,

    Thanks so much for stopping by! Tell me a little more about an email subscription button -- I usually follow people using my google reader. Is there another way to follow?

    thanks for your help with this.

  3. Karen-

    I don't use blogger-I use wordpress, but one of my bloggy friends said you can just add the email subscription button from the page where you add stuff to your blog. I'm not sure where it is on that page. For some reason, I can't keep up with google reader, but when I follow blogs by email I receive an email each time a post is written so it is SUPER DUPER easy for me to stay caught up with my fav blogs by reading my email!!! Hope you can figure it out! :)