BRADENTON -- Students typically start preparing for college in high school.
Author Amy Hammond's goal is to start the conversation about college at a younger age. Her books focus on reaching elementary school students.
"College is where you find out what you want to do," Hammond told fourth-graders Tuesday at Samoset Elementary School. "Then you can go on and get a good job and do what you want to do."
Hammond, a 1998 Manatee High School graduate and author of five children's books, spoke in front of each Samoset grade level, encouraging students to think about college.
Hammond's presentation was the second literary event in school this week. The school accepted more than 1,000 books Monday from St. Joseph Catholic School Student Council -- the second year in a row Samoset has received books from St. Joseph.
Hammond's books and her presentation focused on the more exciting aspects of going to a university. For example, she taught different cheers for the University of Florida Gators.
Hammond said it's important for students to work hard and earn good grades to be able to attend the university of their choice.
"You have to work hard to be able to do the things you want to do," she said. "I know that might sound daunting."
Her illustrated books are written in verse and each focuses on distinctive aspects of different schools. Hammond was written books for the University of Alabama, Louisiana State University, Florida State University, University of South Florida and University of Florida.
Hammond, 35, attended USF and the University of Florida, and began writing her first book when pregnant with her son. She now lives in St. Petersburg.
Guillermo Peralta, a 10-year-old fourth-grader, said he liked Hammond's presentation.
"Now we can know more about a college for when we get closer," he said.
Peralta said it is important to go to college so he can have a good job one day.
Nevan Hernandez, also a 10-year-old fourth-grader and a Seminoles fan, also said it was important to learn about college. Hernandez said he liked it when Hammond talked about FSU.
It's important to get students excited about reading, but it is also important to bring in a local author for children to meet, said Samoset's media specialist Terri Rohde.
"Reading is the crux of their education," Rohde said. "If they can't read, then they can't do anything."
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.