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Photo by C. M. Ruffin

As the school year drew to a close, the first graders at my sons’ school prepared for a big function. Every year the first graders host an Author’s Tea, which is an opportunity for the students to share with their parents a story they had been working on for several weeks during the school year. I received a formal invitation (created by my son) inviting me to attend the tea. And of course I RSVP’d that I would be there. Though I didn’t have a full understanding of what I should expect, I was excited to attend because I knew my son wanted me there.

Grandma and I arrived for the Author’s Tea promptly and I was impressed with the preparation by his teacher for such an event. I did not realize until that moment what a big deal it was to participate in and have representation at the tea. The students came to the door and greeted each of their parents/family members and escorted us to our prearranged seats. Refreshments graced the kidney table on the opposite side of the room and included tea (lemonade) and crumpets (cookies and cake). The cake was decorated with butter cream icing with the words Congratulations Young Authors written across the top. Adorable!

The students were separated into groups and expected to read aloud to the parents in the group, the books they had bound and written. Yes, bound and written. Seeing my son open his own hardbound book with the cover he designed and listening to what I felt was a well written story complete with a plot, humor, adventure, and dynamic illustrations, reminded me of a similar project I was required to do when I was in the second grade.

Upon listening to all the creative stories these first graders came up with, I was inspired by their raw ability to think of an idea, develop that idea into a story and have no reservations about publishing it for all the world to see (no matter how crazy or unusual the idea may have seemed to others). I was proud of my son. I was proud of his class. I asked my mother if she knew where my second grade book was. She said she thought she had sent it to me some time ago. Naturally, I didn’t remember this.

Well, while going through some old papers the other day, wouldn’t you know I found my book! I immediately read it. I was tickled by the plot that only an eight year old could think of and the misspellings left me in giggles. As far as my illustrations, let’s just say it’s a good thing I hired a professional for my current picture book project. I shared my book with my son.

Young Authors 2

Photo by C. M. Ruffin

His reaction was priceless. My illustrations left him in stitches. And clearly the book dated me because after reading the page about the main character playing a video game he asked me, “What kind of game is Dragster?”.

Dragster 2Despite the laughs (at my expense) I was touched by what came next. Each day my children are required to read for a minimum of 30 minutes. While walking past the dining room table, I noticed he was doing his daily reading. I doubled back to give him “the eye” when I asked him what he was reading and he didn’t respond. A tear formed in my eye when he simply held up the book so I could see the cover – my cover. At that moment, I was reminded that published or not, I have always been a writer, I have always been an author, and I owe it to my son and all young readers to finish this book.

Write on!