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The next best thing to writing books for kids is visiting them! Last week, I talked to hundreds of kids in Hawaii at their schools. What awesome discussions I had with them. Kids are smart, and they taught me a lot.

Most of them had read both of my books, AYUMI’S VIOLIN and ACCIDENTAL SAMURAI SPY. In AYUMI’S VIOLIN, Ayumi suffers discrimination and is bullied because of racial prejudice. The kids and I talked about whether they had experienced prejudice and how that made them feel. Have you ever had unpleasant experiences because you’re different?

In ACCIDENTAL SAMURAI SPY, set in 1863, when Aritomo, heir to a samurai lord but disguised as an orphaned commoner, is forced to live in the enemy's castle, he learns that the horrible stories he had heard about the enemy were not true. The enemy were people just like him. After becoming friends with them, he is compelled to stop the war between his clan and the enemy clan. He learns that conflict can be avoided if you get to know your opponents.

Next time you’re having trouble with someone, try getting to know that person. You just might learn to like that person.

Students love writing short stories with me. We choose a character, what he or she desperately wants, why he or she can’t have it, and how to create a happy ending. This is the most fun part of my visits.

Has an author ever visited your school? It’s a lot of fun. Ask your teacher to set one up for your school.