Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ten Reasons to Have an Author Visit Your Child's School

Having an author come to visit your child’s school is a wonderful thing. Here are ten reasons why:

1. When the school shows enthusiasm for an upcoming author visit, the students take the cue that books must be important. A buzz of excitement is created. Kids are then motivated to read that author's books in preparation for the visit.

2. When they meet an author, children discover that he/she is a real person, not just a name on a book cover. They then feel a more personal, human connection with books.

3. With advance notice, most authors in their presentations can address particular topics that highlight a school's individual literacy curriculum or program. For example, the "The Six Traits of Writing," or a literacy theme. This unites the teachers with the author in a common message.

4. The author visit is a break from the routine, a "surprise," a "celebration," a "special guest," and FUN associated with reading, rather than work.

5. The author's books can be sold, in many cases, at greatly reduced prices if a school purchases them in bulk for a visit. (Not required.) Or parents can order books in advance at deeply discounted rates. Then the students can go home with a lasting souvenir of the event, and even have it signed by the author they met. A further reading incentive!

6. Authors can provide teachers with additional activities or lesson plans that the children can use in class to build on the experience in the weeks after the visit is over.

7. Reluctant or at-risk readers can be motivated to read a book when they’ve met the author.

8. An author visit is an excellent way to kick off a literacy event, such as a book fair, a junior author's fair, a literacy night/week, or to reward students who have achieved reading goals.

9. Authors who spend time at schools can teach children many things, like how to brainstorm ideas, get a creative stream flowing, and improve their reading/writing skills.

10. Authors can act as mentors to children by modeling goal-setting, hard work, and determination.

To learn about how to have an author visit your school, click here.

To book Kristyn Crow for a school visit, click here.

Read about one of my special school visits by clicking here.


My reason for this post--I went to an elementary school yesterday to do an author presentation. When I arrived at the school, the literacy facilitator warned me that there was a mother who was upset about my visit. She didn't know me at all, but just heard an author was coming to the school. She called the office and asked what the reason was for author visits. She felt that authors don't give a hoot about the students but only want to make a buck selling their books. She didn't think it was right for us to "peddle our wares" to the kids. I was told this angry mom planned to attend my assembly and might even "heckle" me.

Sheesh.

Well, I felt very sad about this. I'm sad there are people out there that misunderstand the purpose of an author visit. I spent more than a year on my presentation and had purchased some cool rhythm instruments to teach the children rhythm in language, which studies have shown can improve reading skills. My assemblies are a lot of fun for the kids, and other than read my books to them I do nothing to "peddle" my books. School visits rarely make an author lots of money in books sales. The experience is all about getting children excited about reading.

Fortunately, the assembly was a success and the kids had a lot of fun!! I don't know what happened to the disgruntled mom, but I think I may know why she's unhappy. There are some authors who are traveling around blitzing schools in a particular areas (free visits) where the emphasis is solely on advertising the books. I fear that these "free" visits might do some damage to other authors who aren't merely pushing book sales and could really use some compensation for their time and effort to prepare an educational presentation. I'll write more about the problem with "free" author visits later.

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