Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Authors Are My Rock Stars

I got a free t-shirt last summer at ALA Annual. It's green, has a drawing of Edgar Allan Poe on it, and it says, "Authors Are My Rock Stars."  I love this shirt. Because it's so true.

Last summer at ALA Annual, I met Sharon Creech -- Newbery Medal winner, amazing author, and my friend on Twitter.  I was star struck. I stood in line for an hour to meet her and have a book signed for my goddaughter (who is also a big fan), and tried to think of the perfect thing to say to her when I got to the front of the line. I was just hoping to be able to speak coherently.

I never got the chance to be coherent.  Because when it was my turn to meet her and have my book signed, Sharon Creech looked at me and said (and this is the truth!), "Hi! You're my Twitter friend! Can I take your picture?"  I was SO EXCITED that I did what I always do when I'm excited and posing for a picture:  I closed my eyes.  Here's the proof from her blog.  How utterly embarrassing. Oh, I also knocked over her water bottle, too. Luckily, she didn't have me removed from the line, and she did agree to have her photo taken with me.

I was star struck by many authors at ALA. (SN: My friend Bree and I photobombed the Fonz, who is also an author.)  But alas, many school librarians and library science students can't afford to travel to a national conference to meet Newbery winners. Luckily, many, many authors are ready and willing to communicate with us through this great invention known as Twitter. They probably even PREFER to communicate with ME on Twitter because I can't spill their water bottles on them through social networking sites.

If you aren't on Twitter, you're missing a great opportunity to expand your PLN (professional learning network) of amazing librarians who generously share their innovative ideas.  You're also missing a great opportunity to interact personally with the authors of the books you are recommending to your patrons every day.

Barbara O'Connor, author of such wonderful books as How to Steal a Dog, Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia, and The Small Adventures of Popeye and Elvis (a personal fave), interacts with her Twitter followers and fans daily.  Her book, The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester, is on this year's Sunshine State Young Reader's Award list.  When I booktalked it to a group of 3rd graders who had just started reading it as a class, they broke into applause.  Naturally, I tweeted her about it.  She wrote me back. Not only to say how much she loved to hear the story, but also to offer to email me photos of the actual mini submarine that she used as the basis for the mini sub in the book.  I showed the students and they were elated!  Not only did the pictures help their understanding of the book, they were thrilled that an author would send the pictures for THEM to see!  Now, students regularly tell me they love a book they've just finished, and then they say to me, "Will you tweet the author and tell them I loved it??"  As librarians, we know that reading is personal.  Connecting with authors like this reminds me of that regularly.

Twitter may be overwhelming. I know it was for me at first, too.  I started by following just a few people. And lurking. I think I was on Twitter for months before I tweeted.  Now, I've made connections with many school librarians, public librarians, and teachers, who have become an invaluable PLN to me.  If you aren't sure how to get started building your own PLN, check out Jennifer LaGarde's crowdsourced PLN Starter Kit.

If you're interested in simply stalking rock star authors, here's a very brief list of some of the authors I follow (and their Twitter handles):

Sherman Alexie - @Sherman_Alexie
Katherine Applegate - @kaauthor
Judy Blume - @judyblume
Harlan Coben - @HarlanCoben
Chris Colfer - @chriscolfer
Sharon Creech - @ciaobellacreech
Sarah Dessen - @sarahdessen
David Macinnis Gill - @thunderchikin
John Green - @realjohngreen
Jennifer Holm - @jenniholm
Maureen Johnson - @maureenjohnson
Jon Klassen - @burstofbeaden
Marie Lu - @Marie_Lu
Jonathan Maberry - @JonathanMaberry
Kate Messner - @KateMessner
Barbara O'Connor - @barbaraoconnor
Peter H. Reynolds - @peterhreynolds
Roland Smith - @RolandCSmith
Rebecca Stead - @rebstead
R.L. Stine - @RL_Stine
Adriana Trigiani - @AdrianaTrigiani
Deborah Wiles - @deborahwiles
Mo Willems - @The_Pigeon
Lisa Yee - @LisaYee1

Happy Tweeting, Rock Star Librarians!

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