Scouring my resources for blog info this anniversary week, I've been thinking about my Pre-Blog world. Or, more precisely, the Writing World Before Blogs.
The first writer I hosted at a school book fair, very early in my career (S. Byran Jennings Elementary School, Orange Park, FL, in case you're wondering) was Elaine Konigsburg. She signed books, talked to kids, breezed in and out and was absolutely terrific. She also lived nearby. Even in a public school where a large portion of our students didn't have a lot of pocket money to buy books, the Book Fair was very successful, an exciting day for kids and teachers alike.
Back then, computers were unheard of, except where they filled an entire room on a college campus, so there was no internet. No Blog Tour. No websites for authors. Still, success in terms of books sold.
Later, in other schools, other authors visited. Katherine Paterson (I lived in Maryland, and so did she), Cynthia Voigt, Gail Carson Levine-- my list could go on and on. I moved again; my library was a train ride from New York. Our resources were plentiful.
But that's not the case with all school libraries. And thankfully, blog tours have emerged, right up there with Skyped author visits. Schools now have the ability to know writers via cyberspace. How exciting that must be for kids!
But somewhere, deep down inside, I wonder if it's the same for kids. Is sitting on the edge of their desk, peering up at a manuscript stack as tall as the author (granted, Cynthia Voigt isn't terribly tall!), listening to her explain how many times she revised Homecoming, the same as seeing her on a computer screen? Will students miss the sparkle in Wendy Mass's eyes as she rolls out a zillion rejection letters, now laminated and turned into a long stretch of "Nice but not for us" letters, to show young writers how hard she worked? Can anything match being in the very same room with Katherine Paterson as she apologizes for missing the annual 5th Grade Newbery Lunch the previous week-- because she had to fly on the scheduled day- to the real Newbery announcements. Now that's excitement!
Still, I suspect blog tours are a close second to those real live visits. A great way to get to know a book. Terrific publicity, especially for a new writer. Would I like to move back to the pre-blog world? No! Would I trade sitting next to a real-live author, in a classroom, with kids lining up to have actual books signed? Never!