Little kids have a lot to say. In fact, during my school visits, I wouldn’t need to do much talking at all. I could simply introduce myself and my suitcase of “uncomfy clothes” and the kids would take it from there – most likely talking about neither.
Recently a precocious kindergartner treated me to a complete commentary on Mo Willems, all Mo’s books and what makes them special. She was delighted to know that I’m a big Mo fan as well. Never mind, TOO PURPLEY!, TOO PICKLEY! or any other book I’ve written. We were completely wrapped up in pigeons and stuffed bunnies and the magic of our favorite books.
But my chats with the kids often trail off on unexpected tangents having little to do with books or reading or writing.
During a recent discussion about one of the pictures in TOO PURPLEY! a sweet little boy raised his hand and said, “I’ve got a lot of bowling stuff.” Of course, I had to wonder if that meant this tot actually donned his own bowling shirt with his name stitched on the pocket – after all, we’d been talking about clothes. But I never got a chance to explore the comment because several hands shot up. “I’ve been bowling.” “I bowled a strike once.” “I love bowling.” And even a bit later when the moderating teacher asked, “Now does anyone have any questions for Miss Jean about her books or about being an author?” one girl shyly raised her hand and said, “One time when I went bowling, I got a pink ball.” She hadn’t gotten to tell me earlier.
I’ve heard about pets, living and dead. I’ve heard about toys, and grandmas and babies. I’ve heard about The Princess and the Frog and why one little guy loves Tony Hawk. And every once in a while we talk about my books – and it usually comes in the form of advice as to what I should write about. Hmmmm. Maybe my next book should be about bowling.
Maybe it’s something in my books or my suitcase or my face (I think that’s where the grandmas stories come from) that lights their little light bulbs and rockets their hands high in the air until they can hardly hold in their news. Ideas come to life often from unlikely inspiration.
But no matter what the source of their sparks, I love that these brilliant little ones have so many stories to share – and they feel so comfortable sharing them with me.