In my experience, elementary school kids can pay attention for no longer than 20 seconds at a time. So, if you’re in the library with them, and you want to recommend a book that will teach them something worth knowing (as opposed to “The Behind the Scenes Guide to the Star Wars movies” or something like that), that’s how long you have to pitch them. I imagine it’s a little like pitching big time book editors or a Hollywood studio head in this way.
Also, as when you’re pitching a studio head, you probably want to use a simple approach (save the five dollar words for another time), and do make sure they can relate to what you say because these books are going to be competing with video games wherein they get to shoot rocket grenades at zombies. In other words, you better make Chris Columbus look really fracking good if you ever want your kid to read the damn thing!
Here are my examples for how to pitch biographies of important and famous people of the past and present to kids!
1. Abraham Lincoln – He was the president who freed the slaves. He also wore a sweet top hat, and it wasn’t even Halloween!
2. Eli Whitney — invented something called the cotton gin. It sounds boring, but you know the shirt that covers up your dad’s hairy back, you can thank the cotton gin for that one
3. Buzz Aldrin – the second person to step on the moon. And, more importantly, the inspiration for Buzz Lightyear!
4. Martin Luther King Jr. – An amazing man who fought for equal rights for black people. IF you get a blank stare, tell them he’s also the reason we get a day off from school every January. This they will appreciate.
5. Thomas Edison- invented the phonograph. A phonograph is like a record player. A record player is like a CD player. A CD….oh for shitsakes. Let’s just say he invented the iPod, okay?
6. Albert Einstein- you know how you’re the smartest kid in your class, well this guy was the smartest person in the world. His teachers didn’t even think he was smart. Oops!