Intro to the Landry’s True Colors Series
For teachers/parents/grandparents/guardians: As schools are closed down now for social isolation, I thought I’d share some of the group activities I do with readers at presentations and book events for you to use at home. Normally I do these as presentations where I share info and the students or readers can ask questions. I adjusted the usual presentation and questions so they can work for discussions at home with an adult or even if your child wants to do this with friends online. There are also writing exercises that can be shared or used as journaling prompts. These tend to be great ways to discuss what’s going on at school and it can be helpful to have the adults share their own experiences along with them.
Since I often have preteens, teens, and younger kids in the mix, these questions and prompts can be used for different ages. Sometimes younger siblings attend events and I had a teacher’s helper suggest that the younger kids can draw pictures instead of doing the writing exercises, so they can be included as well. Usually the readers for the Landry’s True Colors Series are around ages 10 and up. Landry is in 8th grade, but kids like to “read up” age-wise.
I will have different sets of questions and journaling/discussion prompts up on the blog each week and there will also be a page with all the links if you miss any. If you have any topics or questions you’d like to share, feel free to message me through my contact page on the site.
Readers and students: As you start reading book one, True Colors, keep a notebook to jot down things that you have can relate to or have feelings about as you read. I find people “free write” easier by hand, but feel free to use your tablet, phone, or computer if that feels more natural or just discuss them with an adult or with friends online if you’re doing this with a group. We’ll start by reading chapters 1-3. The first three chapters deal with going through tryouts, fear, friendship issues and frenemies, and a birthday party that’s feels uncomfortable as Landry and Thalia are both trying to find where they fit in. We’ll talk more about the birthday party in the next session.
Here we go!
Landry is anxious as she goes through her first tryout. As much as she’d like to be chosen, she’s also terrified about what could go wrong. Have you ever wanted to try out for a team or maybe audition for a part acting in a play or commercial? Maybe you tried out for something with modeling or even for a TV show like Landry did. She almost let the fear hold her back from doing it. Write about it or discuss what scared you and how you got through that moment. Ask your friends how they’ve dealt with being nervous before a tryout, game, or audition. You might learn something new to help calm your nerves in those situations and you might learn you’re not alone in feeling that way!
If you haven’t tried out for anything, then what is something you’ve thought about doing or trying out for? Write about what it would feel like if you did it starting with waking up in the morning and how you think the day would go. Have fun exploring what life would be like if you got a chance to do the thing you’ve been dreaming about.
Behind the scenes: I wrote about Landry’s modeling reality show TV audition because I used to go on those sorts of things starting in 5th grade. I also did dance tryouts and competitions. I used to get so nervous for the dance auditions and competitions, but not as much for the modeling ones. I would feel sick to my stomach before the dance tryouts. I used to listen to music to keep my mind off things and try to get away from the other girls by either pretending to read in the corner or I’d ask my mom if I could sit in the car with her. Other kids can say some mean girl stuff to knock you off your game and make you even more nervous!
Have you ever had a mean girl say something to make you feel less confident? I sure have and sometimes it kept me from wanting to try out for a bigger role in a dance production. I would want to try for a solo, but those mean girls intimidated me, so I didn’t.
You know what helped though? Focusing on that I could do and focusing on enjoying myself. I was in a smaller tap-dancing class and there were nicer girls in that one, so I decided to work hard, do my best, and just have fun. I would go to each class pretending I was trying out for a music video (that’s why I have a different book series with a girl, Cecily Taylor, who tries out for a music video!). Sometimes I’d pretend I was performing on stage and my celebrity crush and a bunch of producers were out there watching just waiting to make me famous—ha ha!
I gave it my all without worrying about being judged and it paid off because my dance teacher noticed. Now I was always one of the tallest girls in my dance classes and that means they stick you in the back or in the middle so it looks better on stage when you’re performing with shorter girls. (Just like Landry, I wanted to be shorter than I was! I used to dream I’d stop growing or somehow I'd wake up and be several inches shorter. I thought 5’4 was the perfect height and I wanted to shrink!) Anyway, I was so excited when my teacher put me in the front row dead center for our tap performance on stage at the recital that year. It was one of the few times I wasn’t nervous for a recital and I danced my little heart out!
I’m glad I didn’t let fear hold me back on doing those things, but I admit that I did let fear and judgement keep me from trying out for a dance team that I really wanted to be part of when I was a teenager. I didn’t do it because all the girls on the team (and the ones trying out) were…well, not known to be the nicest people. Some of them were mean girls and even acted that way to each other even though they were supposed to be friends. Those kinds of friends are known as, “frenemies,” and Landry encounters those, too. I was too intimidated to try out because I wasn’t sure I could handle it because some of those same girls had made my contemporary dance classes miserable. In fact, I used to try to fade in the background so I wouldn’t be a target of their meanness.
Have you ever gone through an experience where mean girls made you shy away from doing something you really wanted to do? Write about it or discuss it out loud.
Feel free to share your posts in the comments if you’d like. Next time we’ll talk about Thalia’s birthday party, so feel free to put any questions or comments below about that as well and I will answer as many questions as I can.
Author of funny, charming, and irresistible dramas.