Last week I shared our classroom Twitter account with my students and set them free to tweet with abandon. I had learned the year before that the first few days on Twitter are a bit insane, kids tweet non-stop. They are beyond excited. This was true this year as well. I shook my head, silently apologizing to the authors that were being bombarded with incessant tweets of “I love your books. Write more.” It was the first experience for these kids where they could reach out and “touch” an author, and they were a bit giddy. I knew if I just rode out this wave, their Twitter use would calm down to a manageable amount of tweets, so I stayed quiet.
Friday I went to grade their writing journals for their slice of life writing. Flipping through entries, I saw posts on football games, playing outside, grandparents, etc. Looking through Drew’s, I stopped when I saw an entry marked Twitter. I looked closer. Drew had tweeted Dan Gutman sharing how much he loved his books and asking him to write more. Dan tweeted back and told Drew he would.
Drew’s entry goes on to say how beyond thrilled he was that Dan said his name. He goes home, tells his parents about it, and decides that one of his life goals will be to meet Dan Gutman in person.
This happened over and over last week. Jenni Holm, Gordon Korman, Tom Angleberger, Kazu Kibuishi, Raina Telgemeier, Lisa McMann, and more tweeted my students back when they sent out their bazillion tweets. I don’t know if they realize the impact of that. These kids would shout out when they saw a tweet favorite or replied to. They’d run around, showing everyone their iPads and say, “She tweeted me back! She tweeted me back!” It was awesome.
I always say we live in a tiny little hamlet here in Monticello. Surrounded by cornfields, thirty miles to the nearest bookstores, much more than that to a bookstore that would actually have author visits. These kids don’t often have the chance to interact with authors and I wanted to change that. I grew up here. I never thought I could be an author because that wasn’t something that happened to “real people.” Because of Twitter, my students can get to know authors as people and that can become a real dream for them. That makes me happy. Having authors tweet my students back and make their day or week? I can’t even begin to say how grateful I am for that. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.