Friday, February 8, 2013

Day 1223 - Author Talks

8, 9 and 10 year olds - the best audience ever!

Leanne Shea Langdown Author Tour
(C) Deep Fried Fruit
On Wednesday US time I gave my first of four author talks to a school in Pennsylvania.  One thing I know for sure is that the most enthusiastic crowd for anything (ANYTHING) is 8, 9 and 10 year old kids.  I have experienced it in the classroom, I have experienced it in cheerleading and now I have experienced it as an author presenting to a room of 200 3rd and 4th graders.

I wasn't overly nervous about presenting to the kids because I've been working with littlies for a few years now with the cheerleading, so I know how to capture their attention. I admit I was a bit anxious though as to whether I could keep 200 children interested and enthused.

Instead of creating a Cheer Chick Charlie presentation, I concentrated on being Australian.  I did a PowerPoint presentation with loads of pictures and I asked the kids lots of questions.  I tried to make it fun, funny and interactive.  I had kids screaming, and groaning, and laughing, and vying for my attention.  They were such a captive audience and there wasn't a dull moment in the entire 45 minute session.  And unlike the movie "Questions for Ben" I had SO MANY QUESTIONS I had to cut them off so they could return to class.

I was able to start with all things Aussie (including animals, snakes and spiders to keep the boys interested), and then I was able to talk about how their little town of Bath in Pennsylvania inspired Tahlia to become a cheerleader, which in turn had us create the school squad, which in turn had me create Cheer Chick Charlie.  We talked about how from one little seed two forests have grown. We talked about how anything is possible as long as you have commitment, spirit and belief.  We talked about how everybody has something to offer the world, and how all of us have a little cheerleader inside which helps each other to feel happy, motivated, enthusiastic and supported.  But most of all we just talked, and talked, and talked.  I talked, they listened. They talked, and I listened.

The questions came hard and fast. One after the other, after the other, after the other.

"Do you get snow in Australia?"

"Is your time the same as our time?"

"What spider do you hate the most?"

"How long did it take you to write the books?"

"How many cheerleaders do you have in your school squad now?"

"Do you have the same food as us?"

"Have you ever seen a great white shark?"

"Can we buy Cheer Chick Charlie books here in our town?"

"Do you have video games in Australia?"

"Do you celebrate 4th of July?"

"Do people have pet dogs and cats?"

"Do you have an illustrator for your books?"

"Do authors make a lot of money?"

"How long are you staying here?"

"Do you have lions in Australia?"

"Can I read one of your books?"

"Can you come to my house for pizza tonight and meet my mom?"

The questions were delightful. They were relevant, enthusiastic, thoughtful and full of wonder.  I honestly loved every single minute of it and delighted in the energy that was in the room.  These kids were so filled with happiness and were so open to what I had to offer. Little sponges who couldn't get enough.

That's why I love working with 8,9 and 10 year olds. They are old enough to be focused and attentive, but young enough to not worry about how they appear in front of others.  They have a thirst for knowledge and don't yet think they know it all.  They are welcoming of new experiences and not yet passing judgement on what is 'cool' or 'relevant'.

I am so happy I have chosen this age group to write for. I am so happy that these kids are my audience and that I get to be part of their lives.  This experience has shown me that I am definitely on the right path and I can't wait for the next group.

This little town of Bath in Pennsylvania has planted a brand new seed.  They planted the original one five years ago, and today (as my first US based author talk) they planted a new one which gives me hope and belief and even more commitment.

After the school visit I then headed off to see the Bath Lions cheerleaders who were my inspiration all those years ago.  We again shared our stories and I gave them some Good Shepherd merchandise. We agreed to become sister squads.  It was a lovely "home-coming".  

Leanne Shea Langdown and the Bath Lions Cheerleaders
(C) Deep Fried Fruit

Leanne with Nicole (left) and Jordan (right)
Nicole was the one who welcomed Tahlia into her squad all those years ago.
(C) Deep Fried Fruit


  1. What a great experience! So fabulous to see such enthusiasm in young kids. Always good to get lots of questions at the end to know you have kept them engaged. :)

  2. how exciting! gosh if you kept their attention for 45 minutes I'd say you did a brilliant job!! glad to hear it's going well!

  3. I am so excited for you! I think it's beyond awesome that you are living your dream, and having success with it!
    Those books are awesome! Whatever you're doing, you're doing it well xxx

  4. Congratulations Leanne you really are amazing. So glad the tour is going well

  5. Your journey is truly inspirational! I love every minute that I spend reading about it - oh! to spend a day in your shoes right now xx

  6. Oh that is just fantastic! And I thought of you over there today as my 'gift' arrived! Good on you for encouraging a love of Australia. You really are a clever clog. Enjoy and I can't wait for more follow ups!

  7. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this Leanne, you are totally so right, that's a fantastic age group. So thrilled for you and loved hearing more of the story of Cheer Chick Charlie.

  8. Oh, this is fantastic, Leanne!!! Keep doing what your doing and enjoy all those successes along the way! You so deserve them! :) x


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