Last week I spoke at an after-school program, and it just seemed to be one of those talks that wasn't hitting. The students hadn't seen my books ahead of time, they were restless (it was Friday), we were in a huge gymnasium with no microphone. Even one of the counselors was texting during my talk. I had the younger kids' attention, they were sitting in the front. But the teenagers, who made up the majority of the audience, sat at the back of the bleachers. I powered through my slides and got to the cover of Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute. A teen at the very back who had been slouching the entire time sat straight up and his eyes widened. "You wrote that book?!" he called out, his enthusiasm broke through the tough facade.
"I did," I called back.
"I read all them books!" he said, almost in disbelief that the guy who wrote those books was right there.
Those are five words that I'll carry with me for some time. It is so validating to know that my books brought that kid joy, and it's encouraging to know that even when I think that kids aren't listening, they may be hanging on every word.