What is it about telling a class of first, second or third graders that I am an author that always results in a big reaction? That is absolutely not why I tell them. In all cases, I choose to tell my students a little bit about me so that they know that I am a real person, not a mannequin dispatched to supervise them.
Ages of the students determine the imminent questions. For the younger students I get, “Are your books in our classroom? How many books have you written?”
Older students will ask the names of my books or if I am a famous author. After that, do I have a book on the bestseller list and am I fabulously wealthy? My usual reaction is that if I were John Grisham or someone similar, I probably wouldn’t be teaching school.
My best guess is that I become as close to a celebrity as have or can expect to experience. If we were in Los Angeles or New York, that might not be the case. But my kids don’t have much chance of meeting someone famous. If my title as author may somehow make me famous, it becomes a major opportunity to tell someone that they know someone who has done the extraordinary of publishing books.
There are other possible explanations. Maybe, having written books distinguishes me from other adults. Or it may be that I now have new credentials that entitle me to review, edit or evaluate their work.
One day, I will have the right occasion to ask a student or two why they are affected by my author title. In the past, I have been told that students want to read my work. And I also believe that one or two have wanted to make certain that I was telling the truth.
Very often, I will add more info, that I am also a writer and editor. They will inevitably ask me to explain and I always do.
Admittedly, I am also creating a teaching moment. Any of you can grow up to be an author and now you can say that you met someone who did. All you need is a subject, the time to dedicate to your work, a good editor and the belief that you can do it. This is the most critical part – you can do anything you want in life if you believe in yourself and your eventual success. Shalom.