If ever you hear someone say they're 'worried about the next generation,' I implore you to tell them of Mr. Martand Bhagavatula.
Last fall, I received an email from Martand inquiring as to whether or not I'd be interested in participating with him in an upcoming 'Meet The Author' event. I would have been interested regardless, but I was doubly so after he told me more about himself and his non-profit organization, Kids And Smiles.
In 2011, Martand visited a local hospital to play his violin for pediatric patients. Afterward, he felt saddened the patients had so few "fun" things in their rooms and little opportunity to socialize with other children outside the hospital. Thus, Martand decided to found Kids And Smiles as a means of bringing joy to these patients and engaging the community.
Did I mention Martand was 8 when he decided to do this?
This young man is a rockstar, folks.
Oh, man, do I have something in store for you teachers and librarians. Did I mention it's free too?
For those who may not recall, the Montessori School of Westfield was one of the first schools inviting me to speak with their students. Their approach to education and student engagement blew me away.
I've continued to email with them since that first visit and have even been back a couple times since. For my last visit, the students invited me to partake in a Socratic discussion with them on the first chapter of my latest book, The Grave of Lainey Grace.
Understand by partake, I really mean that I sat there in awe of these brilliant young minds as they addressed each other by Mr. and Miss before proceeding with their arguments, and then backing up said arguments with page, paragraph, and line references to the text.
These students rock. I thought that even before they gifted me this...
Author. Actor. Rascal.