Recently my daughter and I finished reading the heavy-hitting, middle-grade novel-in-verse Starfish by Lisa Fipps. My daughter’s words were flowing a mile a minute, the kind that make a librarian’s (and mama’s) heart sing.
“Everyone needs to read this. And by everyone, I mean everyone.”
I immediately went into blogger mode and asked her a few simple questions, then she interviewed me. But more importantly, I tweeted/posted/shared away our reading experience on social media, tagging the author as I went. When Lisa Fipps began interacting back, my daughter was flipping out in all the ways you can imagine. There was jumping up and down. There was gushing. There were even thank-yous!
The truth is, I had seen this same reaction many times from my students after connecting with other authors. To many, it adds an additional layer to their experience with the book.
Adding a connection with an author on social media has the potential to greatly enhance your readers’ experiences with books.
In the same way we know the heightened level of enthusiasm around a visiting author’s books after doling out a chunk of change, you can often achieve some hype for free. And although the author responding isn’t getting paid, they are getting public notice, which could easily lead to online shopping cart purchases.
In my experience, authors usually engage about 75 percent of the time! Sometimes it’s just a “like” or an emoji, but that’s often all you need to get a reaction from kids. It’s all in how you build it. I find that saying, “Kids, you’ll never believe you just LIKED our comment about XXXX!” works very well!
Build a collection of your interactions.
- Take screenshots of your communication with the author and display them next to the author’s work.
- Add it to a bulletin board.
- Have access to your school’s social media? Retweet or share away to allow parents and the community that your students are readers. You can always create a new hashtag to use too, like #SouthElementaryReads.
- Because I frequently communicate with students via a large white board outside the library, I also share there so students can check back to see if the author replied later that same day! The squeals outside the door make me smile.
I have found students often feel authors aren’t real people in the same way they think you probably live at school or have read every book (twice!) in the library. Having just a simple response from the author is that gentle reminder that there’s a real human writing those pages and they check social media just like the rest of the world.
Author: Renee Bowman
Renee Bowman is the co-creator of the blog for parents and caregivers Raising Real Readers. She’s twice been a teacher of the year for her district and was awarded the 2019 Samuel F. Hulbert Educator of the Year at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. She will complete her school librarian certification from IUPUI in May. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram at @RaisingRealReaders or on Twitter @RaisingReal.