Wednesday, September 11, 2019

In Which We're Blogging, this Month, About Good Manners or Public Speaking, and in Which I Tackle Both ... by Jody Feldman

This may or may not be the kiddos I'm talking about.
What I love best about being an author is talking to the kiddos. And what I love best about talking to the kiddos is the Q&A at the end. You never know what they'll ask. I've had teachers and librarians tell me that they're plan to have their students submit their questions in advance, but I ask them not to. What if one young reader wants to ask something directly related to a point I just made? Truly, that happens more often than not. 

And yet, I understand why the educators want the questions in advance. There are always those students who ask the same question I just answered. There are always the hand-raisers who can't remember what they'd planned to ask. And often, there's the one who asks which is my favorite shopping mall or what grades I made in school or whether or not I'm famous.
 
But there was one question -- and I've been asked this a number of times -- that once elicited a comment I'll never forget. I was in Georgia at an elementary school, where the drawls were as thick as the hospitality. I called on the 4th grader in the first row, slightly off to my right. He'd been waving his arm, and the two young men to either side were pointing at him. I looked the kiddo in the eye. "What do you three want to know?"

"How old are you?"

I actually like this question. I turn it into a math-based guessing game and I make jokes, and in the end, we all have a good laugh.

But this time, before I was able to open my mouth, the girl behind the boys gasped. "It's bad manners to ask a lady her age," she in a slow Georgia drawl.

I wanted to laugh, but she was so serious, and her sentiment was backed by the murmurs of the teachers in the room. However, I didn't want to embarrass the student who'd asked the question. Of course, he already appeared beyond mortified. 

I smiled at him, though. "It's okay," I said. "I told you that you could ask me anything. That's just what you did." And I answered him. Then he smiled.

And I went away that day, knowing I'd struck just the right mannerly note.

I'm still booking school visits for later this fall and especially this coming winter and spring. We have a lot of fun, and I answer everything. I'd love to come talk to the kiddos in your life! Click here for more info or contact me: jody@jodyfeldman.com 

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