By Book or by Classroom: how we hook kids

My new school visit pal, Sammy the CheerREADER, came with me ( and Goldie and Bo Peep) to The Reading Bug last weekend for a Get Ready for Back to School storytime. It’s that time of year, my friends.

The Reading Bug–and the classroom-preparation conversations on Twitter–made me realize Hooking the reader is like starting a new school year. Think about it.

As teachers and librarians–and book store owners–, we want our space to be a place that kids want to come back to–a welcoming, comfortable, safe-but-exciting place to take risks. A place that promises. Isn’t that what we love about books?

Bulletin boards are like first pages of a manuscript–harbingers of things to come; affirmations that someone here (teacher, author, main character) gets you. We can learn from each other. Take risks. Find adventures! Come on in!

I’ve spent a lot of time agonizing over The Hook. (Come on–I even wrote a rap about it. ) I used to think it meant starting your story in the middle of the action. Bop! Zing–off we goooo! But that’s like having new student transfer into your class in December. Or arrive in the middle of storytime.

What I didn’t realize until recently is that YES, it’s best to start the manuscript where your character’s world changes (or right before)–but consider this…

A hook can be tone–like a welcoming smile on the first day of school. The tone of The Reading Bug promises adventure and discovery and fun: You’ve come to the right spot. Books do this too.

And maybe it comes down to one thing: You. Do you like your job? Do you love your job? Your students? Your main character? Find a way. The  positive energy that comes from YOU is a powerful hook.

Happy Back to School.

Happy writing.

Happy Readers!

Hook ’em, Dano…