My chief mission on school visits is to inspire students to dream big and believe their dreams can come true. When I volunteered in schools, I discovered that many students had no dreams beyond going to school every day. They didn’t connect the present to the future. They didn’t realize that doing well in school now could make possible a great life in the future. In the process of working with the students I learned that first and foremost they needed someone to believe in them. Someone to tell them they were smart. Someone to encourage them to believe that they could do great things in life.
Now when I visit with students to talk about my books, regardless of whether they are in elementary, middle, or high school, I try to connect with them before I even mention my books. I do this by:
1) Telling My Story – I let them know that on the way to achieving dreams there will be setbacks. But they shouldn’t let those challenges deter them from their dreams. They should keep their dreams in sight and forge ahead regardless of the difficulties they encounter. I share with them the rejections I received and all the great things that have happened because I didn’t give up when I received rejection letters.
2) Engaging Them – I actually try to talk to students individually. I love talking to small groups of students. In small settings I can ask questions and get feedback on how they think. I also ask about their dreams for the future. In small groups students feel free to share their hopes and dreams. In large groups it never fails that some students will laugh at a particular student’s dream that has been shared. I let students know that they matter. And I encourage them to dream big dreams for their lives.
3) Talking About The Story Behind My Books – In my books I tell stories about ordinary people who achieved extraordinary things for the time period in which they lived. I do this to let students know that they too can make a difference in the world.
By the time I read one of my books or an excerpt from one, I have captured their attention and hopefully inspired a few to see beyond their present circumstances and dream of a better life.
I recently saw the following comment that a college student had written online about my first book, Uncle Jed’s Barbershop.
“When I first read this book way back in elementary school I loved it and still do. I am a college sophomore now. The first day I got this book I met Margaree King Mitchell and she was so nice. She had come to our school to have a book signing and she wrote ‘Never Give Up On Your Dreams’ in my book. I’m following that dream by going to college.”
Needless to say, this made my day. And it makes what I’m doing worthwhile. If I can just touch a few students (although I hope to touch all) and convince them that they can be and do anything they desire in life, then I am fulfilling my mission.