By Schenell Agee
Part 1 – Purpose
Many times when I ask librarians if they have thought about hosting an author/illustrator school visit, the first response centers around cost. Since most of us do not have a fairy god-mother (and fairy god-fathers don’t exist), cost naturally is important. The first question we really need to ask ourselves when planning an event is: How will this benefit our students?
Let me count the ways:
- Students have an opportunity to see that authors/illustrators are regular people (with a talent) — just like themselves — who have worked to hone their skill.
- An author’s visit can help students think about the writing process and make connections about books they get from their library.
- If school staff/administration get excited about pleasure reading/writing, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy, students will get excited and want to read/write for pleasure.
- The event can positively impact reading, writing, speaking, listening and thinking.
- Students gain exposure to excellent literature by reading and viewing award-winning author/illustrator materials.
- The event can support interest in books on the state and national award list.
- Students make meaningful connections with author/illustrators and can work on public speaking skills by asking questions.
- Students engage in learning while making connections across various content areas.
- Students gain an understanding about the field of an author or illustrator as a career.
- When ALL students participate, you don’t know what impact this can have. This may be their first experience to see this type of presentation. If done right, author visits are just plain fun and engaging for students.
Let’s take a look at how all schools can make it happen. Begin with some preliminary questions:
- When should you begin planning? When will the event take place?
- TEAM members needed
- What are the logistics: Will this be a whole school assembly or small group discussion? The latter offers the most favorable conditions for student take-a-ways. Remember, most authors/illustrators max out at 4 presentations a day.
- What venue in your school would be most conducive for the presentation? i.e. Library, multi-purpose room, auditorium, etc.
- How much money will you need?
- What community partners can you consider? i.e. Public Library
- How do you contact the author and set up the visit?
- What must you do before they arrive? What must you do on the day of the event?
In part 2 of this 4 part series we will explore the Initial Planning phase.