I’ll be honest here. I’m at a point that I reach a couple of times every year, where I’m swamped with fan mail, overwhelmed, and feel nothing but guilt. When I hear writers talk about how much they love fan mail, I often think, “Yeah, but.”
I’d yell at my staff of minions but I don’t have a staff to yell at.
But then there are letters like the one below. I’ve changed the names and deleted some details in the interest of privacy.
My name is S and I teach 8th grade language arts in a middle school. I am writing to you because I wanted to share a video with you. This past year I had a very special young man in my class, Billy Jones. Billy is autistic. Billy is actually the oldest of three children in his family. His siblings are also autistic. Billy has wonderful parents who encourage him in all aspects of his life. Billy enjoys reading and LOVES to read mysteries! When my regular ed students were choosing books to read, Billy was searching for a mystery. He decided to read your Jigsaw Jones #6: The Case of the Mummy Mystery. Billy loved it!
For his book project, we decided to actually re-create the mystery (the best we could) here at school. So, with the help of his aide, as well as his classmates, our principal (the mummy), and other teachers, Billy had the opportunity to re-create The Case of the Mummy Mystery. I wanted to take this time to send it to you, in hopes you will enjoy it as much as we have.
Thank you for your time. Enjoy!
Thank you so much for sharing that video. It was beautiful to see how so many different people in your school came together in support of Billy’s creative efforts. There’s love in that little video, and I felt it.
And for the record: Any principal who dresses as a mummy to assist someone’s class project, well, that’s my kind of guy!
A few years back I had the opportunity to work with a special education class as a visiting author, and together we created our own picture books. I returned to that magical classroom many times, and it was always the highlight of my week. Surely one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences in my career. The books we made were modest, simple, and a huge success. Like Billy’s, our books featured photographs throughout.
When complete, we gathered together for a little celebration. All the authors and me. Those bright, beautiful children, surrounded by a dedicated group of kind teachers, eating cupcakes and celebrating their achievements. I shed a few tears that day, even though I tried to hold back the waterworks.
Thank you for the important work you do. And thanks for sharing that video. Please pass along an address and I’ll send Billy a few signed books by way of appreciation.