Kids Are Still Kids

jan-coates-2I’ve been doing some school author visits lately, and it’s always interesting walking into a classroom full of strangers, most often from grades primary to eight for me. I like kids, their honesty, energy and enthusiasm, and doing school visits really inspires my writing; it’s a great research opportunity. For the most part, students are attentive, and they can ask some pretty funny questions, often about my dog since I include Charlie in my PowerPoint, along with my other family members, the people who help me be a writer on a daily basis. Giving four presentations in a day pretty much tires me out – how do teachers do it day after day?

The thing that always strikes me is that kids are still readers and they’re still p1000574kids, despite the internet, technology, etc. that brings the world to their fingertips regularly. There are still shy kids (often those paying closest attention), bold kids looking for a laugh, in-between kids, and, sadly, left-out kids. Middle-school students are still trying to figure out their place in the group; the “cool” kids are still trying to stand out in various ways and venturing into the confusing, yet thrilling, world of relationships.


I always browse the bulletin boards at schools. I took these pics when visiting a school in BC during TD Book Week last year. One thing I’m careful about these days is to never gender-specify when calling p1000578on a student. There are always plenty of volunteers willing to share their writing, and it’s not always the “out-there” kids you might expect. I ask volunteers who want to present to write their own names on the board. One grade 8 student, in a classroom featuring a rainbow flag, proudly told me they’d made up the spelling of their name – Jaycob. Generally, it seems like kids today are a lot more free to express themselves, to be who they want to be than in my long-ago school days, when everybody seemed to be conservative and fairly conforming. Maybe I’m being naive, but I’m cautiously optimistic that this means the adults of the future will be more accepting and open… What do you think?

6 thoughts on “Kids Are Still Kids

  1. I agree. Kids are more open to differences and I hope that continues on into adulthood. I love doing school visits for all the same reasons you mentioned. I will be in Alberta and BC doing a few visits in November and December. Looking forward to it.

  2. rtkatiecarrol

    I love doing school visits! The kids never fail to inspire me. One workshop I do is about coming up with story ideas, and they have such amazing ideas! I think the generation growing up now will be the most accepting and open we’ve even had.

  3. mirkabreen

    Love this observational post, Jan. You reminded me of Ursula Nordstrom comment to the writer who said all the stories are old stories. “But the kids are new,'” Ms. Nordstrom said.
    New Humans are always human. I am less optimistic about the species evolving, though I do perceive small steps toward greater acceptance.

    1. That’s a classic line! Makes me think of how differently kids today would read something I loved reading when I was 10 or 11. I think they’d still like some of the books, but so many would feel ridiculously dated. One thing I notice is that kids aren’t shy about speaking up these days, and that’s a good thing, I think….

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