A while ago I got this email from a teacher:
I teach 10th grade English to students with learning disabilities, mild cognitive disabilities, and emotional disabilities. It is close to impossible to find a novel that all are interested in and will actually participate in discussion about. I begged and begged my director and she was able to purchase me a class set of your novel, The Compound. It's such a pleasure to teach this novel! ALL my kids listen while I read and have much to discuss, which never happens. They even groan and complain when we have to stop reading or class is over. I've even had two of my copies come up missing and two students who checked it out of the library for their parents to read. I wish I could convey to you how unusual this is! I teach the core curriculum, the same standards, as a general education class and it is very difficult for my students. They are now working on these standards and don't even realize it because they are so excited about his story. THANK YOU!
A few weeks later, I had a library event in her city and she came to see me. She was so sweet and I hugged her and offered to Skype with her students. Here’s the thing: I reserve the right to charge or not charge for my Skypes. This gets me into trouble with other authors, but would you be able to get a letter like that and then not do the Skype simply because they don’t have a budget? I’m not that person and I never will be. So today was the Skype. And those kids were great. They had a million questions and made me laugh, and I made them laugh too. I was so glad I took the time. And then I got this email:
Thank you so much! Of course, after we hung up they started talking a mile a minute. They're such good kids and this is the first time many of them have finished a book or even liked reading. Our system's superintendent and assistant superintendent were here also. The assistant superintendent said she'd have to get us The Fallout so that we can read both next year. I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone!!
I can't thank you enough for the excitement you have brought to English class. This will be a lasting, good memory for my kids who have so few things to be excited about.
So yeah. That was pretty much a really good use of my time. And it reminded me of why I do what I do.