Friday, March 7, 2014

Why readers love and hate books as taught to me by fourth graders...

Why do some readers hate my books and some readers love them? That is the question of the century! So many times I've read contradicting reviews and comments about my books and the question that always pops up is, "Did these people read the same book?"

I had a "lightbulb moment" today in a fourth grade classroom! I know what does one have to do with the other...LOTS.

I had the honor of team-teaching a lesson to a class of fourth graders today. They had been studying author's purpose and authors perspective so this lesson was the summation of the week. We chose a book that gave a lot of voice to the various characters. And so the lesson went differentiating between why an author writes a book- in fourth grade lingo that would be PIE- persuade, inform, entertain and how the author approaches the content with setting, actions, and voice.

This made me focus on my own purpose, or actually I was asked point blank by the students. Why do I write, what is our purpose as authors? Collectively I would say, it's our profession- we have to put food on the table somehow or to entertain and share with others. I would be amiss if I didn't mention, to make a bestselling list someday or what about because we love it. There are so many reasons why we write and every one of them is just as important as the other.

Okay, back to fourth grade. The students were tasked with finding how the author was able to give each character a different voice. Not only did they grasp the concept of word choice, story differences, and actions, but they also found that the illustrations used symbolism to portray the different perspectives.

So that being said, what did I learn? I learned the same thing we have been saying all along, just as every student doesn't learn the same way. Every reader doesn't approach every book the same way. I know symbolism in it's finest here...bear with me! :) As a teacher, my job is to make sure I reach every learner with any approaches I can find that are effective. Many of those students today, I'm sure didn't completely understand the concept. That is okay though because tomorrow we'll do it again in a different way. We'll gain a few more with each approach until they all finally get it and can be successful.

The same concept applies to my job as an author. Readers come with different experiences and expectations to each book they open. That's the beauty of it. We can keep writing and gain a few new readers with each book because each one is different. So yes in answer to my question, those readers did read the same book they just had a different perspective while reading it! The next time I read a review that isn't flattering I'll remember those fourth grade babies and how we all see things differently!