Today I found myself in a middle school.

That's me--technically not a middle school picture, as I think I was in high school when this was taken, but the bangs were a fixture from age 12 on into college, so you get the idea.*

That's me--technically not a middle school picture, as I think I was in high school when this was taken, but the bangs were a fixture from age 12 on into college, so you get the idea.*

Don't be alarmed; I was there on purpose and at a staff member's invitation. It was all very official. I had a (very large) visitor sticker plastered on so no one would mistake me for a school intruder and attempt to apprehend me.

I was invited by a lovely school librarian to talk to her students about books for an hour.

Right!?!? This I can do!

To prepare, I spent the summer and some of the fall reading and writing about middle grade books, and I got to blab about them to 75 thrillingly attentive 6th graders. It was so much fun.

The kids were adorable. Sixth graders, though they perhaps haven't all mastered deodorant application yet, are positively charming. If you ask them a question, ALL of them want to answer it. If you act excited about something, they too will be excited about that thing. And best of all, if you ask if they love reading, the majority of them will raise their hands and hop around like they need a bathroom pass. 

Ah, the energy. The enthusiasm.

The kids also love telling stories. If you give them an opening, they'll give you all kinds of unsolicited information. Today I heard about one kid's favorite graphic novel, several ringing endorsements for the Eragon series, and the fact that a couple kids' sisters had read that book I was holding. 

My favorite comment came from the future hipster who said, "I'm reading this book that probably none of you have ever heard of. It's called The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Respect, kid. Someday he'll be sitting in a coffee shop with a beret and a signed first edition of The Brothers Karamazov

This was my ensemble for the day. I figured if I ran out of things to say, I could probably get by on a book-themed shirt, purple hair, and general goodwill.

This was my ensemble for the day. I figured if I ran out of things to say, I could probably get by on a book-themed shirt, purple hair, and general goodwill.

I've spent a fair amount of time in middle and high schools in my adult life, as an education student, a para, a certified teacher, and a substitute teacher, and I'll be the first to admit that teaching is one hell of a hard job. I've tried several times to find a way to fit my weird little self into the field of education, but it never seems to take. It turns out I really hate grading. And being cussed at. And explaining comma rules. And trying to force/trick/cajole kids into loving reading as much as I do. 

Reading is awesome, okay? It's self-evident.

I also have well-documented introvert tendencies, and sometimes as a teacher I felt like if I had to talk into one more person's face about why their assignment was late, I would have to go into permanent hiding. Or at least seasonal hiding, like a groundhog. Teaching made me into a groundhog, is what I'm saying.

But I think I've found my niche. Book talks are going firmly in the "win" column.

*I had lofty dreams and good intentions of taking some scenic shots at the school for this post--closeups of locker dials and library shelves--but completely forgot about it until I was pulling out of the parking lot to head for home. So instead, all I can offer are pictures of me as a middle-schooler. I apologize--though you probably know by now that fine photography is not something I bring to the table on this site.

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AuthorTaryn Pierson