Thursday, October 25, 2012

400 students + one celebrity = Fall Festival Fun!

This year, I have the honor of being President of the Toledo Area Council of the International Reading Association.  The Toledo Area Council of the International Reading Association or (TACIRA) is a non-profit, professional organization whose members are dedicated to improving reading instruction, promoting literacy, and encouraging life-long reading habits. We are affiliated with the Ohio Council of the International Reading Association (OCIRA) and the International Reading Association (IRA).

One tenacious duty of my presidency thus far: organize, plan, and host a celebrity author visit for students and teachers from local school districts.  I started this enormous task in early July.  Four months of rigorous planning and hard work finally paid off!  Today, with gorgeous blue skies and 75 degrees on a sunny, picture-perfect fall day, the TACIRA's Fall Festival welcomed national award-winning, best-selling author, Denise Brennan-Nelson!  I had butterflies all day!  I have adored her books, especially "Willow" and "Buzzy the Bumblebee".  Meeting Denise was truly an honor!

Spending the day with a famous children's author---What could be better than that?  Well something even more amazing was happening all around me.  "Standing room only" and children, children, everywhere!  Somehow I managed to invite 400 students accompanied by teachers, family, and friends that came out to support our LOVE of reading!  Being President of the best literacy organization in town sure is fun!

This was our first session of upper grade students!  Packed house indeed!

This was our second session of primary students and proud teachers!

Denise shared these story board illustrations from her first published book, "Buzzy the Bumblebee".

Denise talked about process and form with illustrations.

Denise used her arm BEE puppet to tell the story of Buzzy!

Look at these precious faces!  They love the BEE puppet!

Denise invited teachers to use 5 yellow and black pipe cleaners to design their very own Bumble Bee finger puppet!  These were GREAT and I can't wait to try this with the kids!

Here is Denise reading aloud "Buzzy the Bumblebee" to the audience!

Denise has a whopping 14 books published!  
Coming Soon:  "He's Been a Monster All Day"

My FAVORITE PICKS by Mrs. Nelson:





Denise also presented to a group of teachers later in the day and she had a very powerful tool with her... Perhaps her secret weapon to her success and motivation.  Take a look down below.  All of those journals belong to Denise.  Her lifetime collection of memories.  Her favorite is the old & delicate green journal on top, wrapped neatly in a polka-dot ribbon.  This journal belonged to her grandmother and was started in the 1930's.  

 I could feel my heart begin to swell as I made an instant connection with Denise's message.  Time may fade away, but the power of our written words last forever!  Reading and writing are gifts to us all
Denise went on to say that we can't expect our students to understand the  "Why do I really have to write this?"  until we, as parents & teachers, give them the motivation and inspiration that only comes from picking up a pen ourselves and modeling each and every day with a tone of excitement, anticipation, and suspense that lingers through the pages of our written words.  

As I drove home from the festival, I thought about my journals from my childhood days.  I thought about my poetry. I thought about my unfinished draft of a children's book that "Someday" I would love to finish.  Tonight, I am inspired to write.  Perhaps 2 or 3 lines, of anything that was sweet in my day or happy in my heart.  My ambition is to follow Denise's heartfelt advice and write a little, each night, so that someday I too can leave my mark somewhere on the pages of the story that is my life.

How do you intend to leave your mark?

International Reading Association - Newark, DE
Please join your local IRA organization and support teachers just like me!
 Often times we cannot always give from our wallets, but we can give our most precious gifts:
 volunteering our time and our talents to promote literacy in local communities!  


  1. Wow Julie! You rock! That is really cool :)

    1. Heather,
      I wish you could have been there! It was so much fun! Did I tell you how excited I am to see you on Blogger! Yay!


  2. Wooo hooo!!! I'm 101 on your followers! So happy to have found your adorable blog.

    First Grade Smiles

  3. Some of the well known latina actresses sometimes get a little difficult to manage; fame comes in a way that lots of celebrities aren't steeled for.


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