For teachers and students, authors are like rock stars! They are celebrities we welcome into our classroom each day. We start and end our day with their works. We talk about them all the time and we try to be just like them! Authors are rock stars.
This explains my feelings as I stood in line to meet none other than Joy Cowley at the Hameray booth during the International Reading Association annual conference. I heard her speak that morning. She spoke so eloquently to the crowded room of teachers.
“I’ve always been a storyteller,” Cowley began. The author, illustrator, and literary hero of mine is also funny. “I’m glad I chose this path,” she went on to say. “If not, I’m afraid I’d been just a compulsive liar.” As you might imagine, we were hanging on every word!
Cowley said she was not a great reader as a young child. She started reading at age nine, and the first book she read by herself was Ping. She read it and then read it again, amazed at how it was the same story the second time! That is not how she became a writer though. She became a writer when her son’s teacher told her to write stories for him. Her left-brained son needed a little something extra as a reader. That’s how Mrs. Wishy-Washy was born!
Cowley spoke about her characters. She told us she works closely with her illustrators so every word and picture work together for meaning. She read aloud a Mrs. Wishy-Washy book. You could have heard a pin drop in the room! We were in awe. How humble and delightful she is. This author, word master, and creator of books that have helped so many children become readers shared stories with us like we were family.
Hours later, I stood in the long (and ever growing) line to meet her. I was practicing in my head what I was going to say to her. I thought I might start with “you’ve helped so many of my students become fluent readers.” Then I decided to go with “my cooperating teacher introduced me to your treasures thirteen years ago.” As I inched closer, I knew I had my first words: “I LOVE your books and so do my students.” YES! I was ready!
I approached the table, and she reached her hand out to greet me. All of my planning was out the window. I was a bit teary eyed. I told her it was an honor. I told her thank you for being so passionate about developing readers. Then she thanked me. She thanked me for being a teacher.
Joy Cowley is definitely a reading rock star, and I look forward to introducing my new class to her works in the fall!
Lyssa Sahadevan is a first-grade teacher in Marietta, GA. She loves reader's and writer's workshop, is a former Teacher of the Year, and shares ideas at www.mymommyreads.com.
To download information sheets with key features about Joy Cowley's two series Joy Cowley Early Birds and the Joy Cowley Collection which contains the books show in this post, click the images below.