Each year I am responsible for scheduling the author visit for my school. Preparing for these visits can be a lot of work. There are many factors to consider such as finding the right fit for your audience, budgeting, book orders, and organizing the day. However, after each visit, I am struck by five things that I love about them.
Authors Are Real
I work with students in preschool to second grade. It is always amazing to this age group that the author is a real live person. When an author comes to visit the abstract concept of someone’s name on the cover of a book becomes concrete. They can talk to them and even give them a hug (if the author is willing). This then changes the reading experience for my students.
I love introducing a book that an author who is visiting has written. The engagement level with that text goes way up! Students feel that the story is more important since the person who wrote it will be there to talk to them about it. Additionally, after an author visit, I am not able to keep any of their books on the library shelf.
Book orders are an important part of an author visit for the stakeholders at my school. Having a personalized copy of a book is something special. It is amazing to watch a child, who has ordered a book, open it up. They read the message inside that is written directly to them and it becomes a new favorite!
Managing a book order can be a bit tricky. Here are a few things that I have learned:
- Use an independent bookstore (if you can). They are knowledgeable and provide a personal touch. Sometimes they will even provide a discount.
- Make sure your order form is concise. It helps to prevent mistakes and follow-up questions.
- Create an autograph form. This is an extra step, but helps the day of the event. It makes the actual signing very efficient for everyone involved. Before the visit, this form is filled out and placed inside each book. It lists who the book is supposed to be autographed to, the title, the name of the child, and the teacher’s name. This is then placed back inside the book after it is autographed. It makes it simple for the teacher to pass out the books to each child to take home.
Creating an authentic audience for students to share their work is something that I have been working on in the library. We tried something new this year when Deborah Diesen, author of the Pout-Pout Fish series, came to visit. The junior kindergarten class had a presentation from her about her work but also had the opportunity to share their work with her. The students helped to create new ideas for what the Pout-Pout Fish could do with his friends now that he was happy. They were so excited for her to visit and could not wait for her feedback. They were convinced that she was going to use one of their ideas for her next book!
On a personal level, I have learned so much about the publishing world from the authors who have visited. Most of the time, they are amazing storytellers! They share their books in a way that I never would have. I have learned many things about the art of a good read-aloud and presenting to a large group of children too.
Do you have any favorites? I am always looking for suggestions!
Author: Kelly Hincks
I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a librarian for the past nine years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair. I was most recently a member of ALA’s Ready to Code (RtC) Task Force.