The other day I got to be the visiting author in the kindergarten class at the school where I work. It was definitely the highlight of my day. I am used to the jaded attitudes of evil and hormonal fifth graders. Their teacher, my friend Lynne, instructed them only to ask questions and not make comments (or tell long 6 year-old stories).They had obviously been well-trained in this - but you could just see their little mouths poised to tell you what was on their minds. I showed them my book Flying Over Midnight, and they really liked the pretty cover. I told them that my Mom painted it and they had lots of questions about that. One little boy asked what she used to paint it and I told him it was watercolors. He said very knowingly, "I thought it was watercolors."
I got reprimanded by another when I didn't use his name to call on him "I told you my name is Loki!" (Sorr-ry!)
Then the question I was afraid of - what is your book about? We-e-e-l-l-l - it's a grown-up book about a woman who is a mom and she plays the piano. Luckily that threw them off track and all of a sudden I heard from everyone who played the piano or knew someone who played the piano. Whew!
Then I got questions like - how did you make the words? How did I make the words? You mean how did I think of them? I used my imagination. No, how did you make them? You mean did I type them on a computer? No! I thought you would use a pen! Oh.
After we discussed using our imaginations and how writers have to practice, practice, practice, and how even grown-ups make mistakes and have to fix them - their teacher asked me if I could talk about editing. (In kindergarten???) Yes, because the kindergarteners are learning how to EDIT their work! Then I got to see some of their writing and I promised to come back and make comments on any future work they wanted to show me.
At the end of our session Lynne asked me to tell them my dog-got-sprayed-by-a-skunk-story from earlier in the week. And even though they weren't allowed to tell me stories - right at the end a little boy scooted up to me and whispered all in one breath I had a dog and he ate some paint off the chair and we took him to the doctor and he died and then he went to dog heaven.