Let’s face it… I have always been a “Reading Bug.” I can’t even remember a time when I wasn’t enthralled with reading. Every Saturday night my dad played the drums at a fancy restaurant, and it was my time to start the night in my parents’ bed. My mom and I would both collect our reading material and read until we fell asleep. Then it would be my dad’s job to move me to my own room when he arrived later that night.
I have vivid memories of waiting for my dad to come home to work as I wanted to show him how I could read my entire “Clifford” book without assistance – even the BIG words! On the weekends, my cousin would sometimes be in town, and I would get into trouble for not being a good hostess as I just wanted to read books. She was a tomboy and wanted me to climb trees and dig in the mud with her. There was even an occasion when she put a frog down my shirt. And I just wanted to read…
Many of my best memories across time are tied into reading of some sort. In elementary school, a real author even came to read to us!!!! I was ecstatic!!!! My parents purchased the books for me so that I could get them signed. I will never forget that day. Sadly, the signed books have disappeared over the years, but I made sure that my children can still access them by purchasing replacements. The books that I loved by Kenneth Thomasma were, “Soun Tetoken” and “Naya Nuki.”
Being introduced to an author at a young age for me was inspiring. While student teaching this year, I saw that little ones are still very intrigued by the thought of someone actually “knowing” an author. When my 1st graders were working on questioning skills, I read a book to them that was written by my Aunt Polly Carlson-Voiles entitled, “Someone Walks By.” I think that they were as excited to know that I had a relative that was an author as they were by the book itself – which they loved by the way. This trend of being intrigued by authors continued during my 6th grade internship. C.J. Box is an author that only lives about 70 miles from our home. He is also the neighbor to my daughter’s best friend. My students are completely obsessed with his books. When I was interning in the library later in the year, I actually didn’t think that we had very many of his books. However, at the end of the year when everything was checked back in I realized that they were just checked out all the time. We had TONS! Students loved his books so much that I started working on seeing if C.J. Box could come visit our classroom. Since we have connections through our family, I quickly learned that he had just started his new book tour and couldn’t get there this year. I also learned that he is wonderful about visiting schools and loves to take time talking to students. Therefore, we have our sights on getting him into our community for next year.
Although it may take some work on the part of the teacher to arrange an author visit, I feel that this is a wonderful way to get students excited about reading. There is something about knowing that you are going to meet an author that motivates students to get familiar with the material. All it takes is some excitement and enthusiasm to get students hooked. A reader that doesn’t care for reading might dig into a book for the presentation and “catch the bug” and realize that reading is really awesome! Unmotivated students sometimes need to see reading in a different light other than required reading for the classroom to realize what kinds of materials they enjoy. Author visits are a GREAT way to promote literacy!
In thinking about this topic, I wondered if there are many authors available and willing to visit schools. I also wondered how a teacher would go about scheduling an author for a visit. So…. Where did I start my search???? Well Google of course… Some sites that I found weren’t terribly helpful. However, others gave me a great deal of information on not only how to find willing authors to visit, but they provided information on fun ways to prep students for the visit. The following links might prove helpful to you, and I’ve listed a “snippet” of what they have to offer.
“Reach a Reader” Resources – Resources for Authors and Illustrators (Below is a list of links that they provide to help connect with authors and illustrators.)
- Author Illustrator Source – “Site byline reads “Connecting published artists and writers of books for children and young adults with schools!”
- Authors and Illustrators Who Visit Schools
- Author School Visits by State – this does not arrange the visits for you – it gives educators information on how to get in-touch with authors and illustrators
- AuthorsNow! – “This site helps connect debut authors and illustrators with the full spectrum of children’s book enthusiasts.”
- Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Speakers’ Bureau
- Spark Program Mentors/Apprentice Teachers
- Skype an Author Network
“Scholastic Books for Children & Young Adults” provides a form to request a visit from an author. They will contact the author with your information and get back to you.
“Children’s Authors’ Ally LLC”
Although I would prefer to have an author visit my classroom for free, there are organizations available that will set up a visit with an author for a fee, including the link above. There website says that they will “coordinate every aspect of the visit, making the process simple for the school.” They state that they will assist with the following:
- Recommend author programs
- Suggest appropriate formats for your program
- Create a contract between the author and organization
- Coordinate travel arrangements
- Communicate technical and other set-up requirements
- Advise on best practices for student preparation
- Travel with the author (within New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut)
- Facilitate book sales
- Develop block tours to specific locations, thereby allowing schools to share in travel expenses
“Random House Teachers & Librarians”
This site also has a request form to fill out where they will assist with setting up a school visit. They provide information on the following:
- Everything you need to know to set up an author visit in your school
- How to host a virtual author visit in your school or library!
- Author/Illustrator request form
- Book ordering supplies
- Alphabetical list of available authors and illustrators
When I clicked on the list of authors and illustrators, I liked that they list appropriate grade levels for each author/illustrator in addition to locations that they are willing to travel. By providing this information, it allows educators to only take time looking at authors that would be willing to visit. Otherwise, they might spend valuable time working on getting an author to visit only to find out later that they won’t travel to their area.
“Authors and Illustrators Who Visit Schools”
This link provides a directory list of authors and illustrators that are willing to visit schools. In addition, they provide information on how to contact them. Teachers can also sign up to be on their mailing list so they can keep up-to-date on what is available through this resource.
Once an educator schedules a visit from an author, it is important for them to adequately prepare their students for this activity.
“Scholastic Books for Children & Young Adults” provides a page that not only provides an alphabetical list of authors by name and region of where they will visit, and “authors by Skype”, but they provide a link called, “Tips for a Successful Visit.” When clicking on that link, they provide a wealth of information to assist with preparations. I highly encourage you to check out this link. It provides tons of information in each of the following categories:
- Making Your Author Visit a Success
ONE OF MY FAVORITE SITES FOR HOW TO PREP STUDENTS WAS AT THE FOLLOWING WEBSITE.
“The Perfect Author Visit”
The site was provided by Dan Gutman in 2013, and it provides information on:
- Things to do in advance
- On the day of the visit
- After the visit
- To sell or not to sell
If you take nothing else away from my ramblings today, I hope that you remember this… Any and all ways that we can connect with students through literacy is a good day. All children deserve to be provided with opportunities that allow them to find their niche in a world of reading that can truly take them to new places each and every day. Author visits are just one way of many that can get children excited about reading.