Many of Jean Reagan’s best ideas for her books come directly from kids at her readings.
Reagan, a New York Times bestselling author, will be in the youth wing of Teton County Library at 11 a.m. Saturday to read from her new book, “How to Get Your Teacher Ready.” The library is located at 125 Virginian Lane.
Reagan’s reading is part of the Library Summer Fun Finale Party, which begins at 10 a.m. and is a celebration of the written word featuring plenty of family-friendly activities. It is free to attend.
Nine-year-old DJ Grady will play music and there will be copious amounts of ice cream, a bouncy house, glitter tattoos, crafts and more.
Salt Lake City magician Paul Brewer, back by popular demand, will perform at noon in the Ordway Auditorium — free tickets will be available at the youth desk starting at 11:30 a.m.
The book is the latest in Reagan’s series of role-reversal instructional books for children, which include “How to Babysit a Grandpa” and “How to Surprise a Dad.”
At her readings Reagan gets to see which elements of her work kids respond to positively, and she tries to incorporate what she learns into future projects, striving to make her books as interactive as possible.
“How to Get Your Teacher Ready” reverses the premise of kids being nervous about getting ready for school by adopting the point of view of one teacher’s classroom throughout the school year.
“It goes through the hundredth day of school, field trips, winter concert, all the different things that happen,” Reagan said. “At the end, it says one of my favorite things — ‘the most amazing thing of all is you’ll remember your teacher forever and she’ll remember you.’”
Reagan knows that not all kids are the same, so she varies her tone by combining silly moments with poignant ones. Her first book, “Always My Brother,” touched on the theme of sibling loss and was written in the wake of losing her son.
“I always like to have a little piece of him in there — something that he said or some example I got from his life,” she said.
In her latest book Reagan wanted to ensure that the story did not undermine the role a teacher plays in students’ lives and that it portrayed the work they do in a positive light.
“Teachers work hard, and I think sometimes in our culture we don’t honor that enough, especially lately,” she said. “We don’t reward them the way we should, so I really wanted to make sure my book honored them.”
Reading her book at the library feels like she’s coming full circle because the library is where she did a lot of her writing.
When she’s not writing out of her Salt Lake City home Reagan is a volunteer for Grand Teton National Park and lives in a patrol cabin in the backcountry by Leigh Lake.
Reagan said living in the woods is less of a Walden-esque attempt to embody the lifestyle of a reclusive author in the woods and more of an opportunity to be at peace in the park.
“Sometimes my author world and my volunteer park ranger world come together,” she said. “Sometimes I’ll go check a campsite and the kids will know my book.”
Her next project is a Halloween book called “How to Scare a Ghost,” which will be out next year.
A book signing will follow the reading.
Library Youth Program Coordinator Beth Holmes said it is exciting to have a bestselling author come to promote its literacy initiatives.
“We’re going to celebrate everyone’s great work in reading, and it’s for the entire community, not just the kids,” Holmes said.