Part 2 – Initial Planning by Schenell Agee
A successful author/illustrator visit begins with planning and a TEAM. Involving all stakeholders ensures everyone is vested and ultimately wants the best event for the school. Begin with your administrator! You need their support for a number of reasons: you may need to ask them to help fund this project. The PTA is generally supportive of school wide events and could help with book sells. Solicit help from the art teacher to have students create a welcome banner. You will want to ensure the venue being used has proper lighting and sound. If you have a drama department, this may be something students can help facilitate. To incorporate technology, students can create book trailers or commercials to advertise the event. Another benefit for advanced planning allows the librarian to work with the purse string holders to purchase books for the school to use prior to the author/illustrator arrival. Additionally, a nice treat is when each student can be provided their own personal copy as part of the event. The librarians can conduct activities or provide background knowledge for students. Involving the Language arts department can assist with reading books prior to their visit. Work with other content areas to involve cross curriculum connections. Ask the team to think about ways to incorporate science, math, social studies, etc. Review state objectives and division goals and provide a focus for the plan. Planning nine to twelve months in advance allows for schedule coordination for the author/illustrator and the host venue site. Your first choice may not be available during the time you requested and you may need to select another person. I generally like to begin with at least two prospects.
Is everyone vested in this endeavor? Once you secure this answer, now you are on your way. Do you host bookfairs? Monies from bookfairs are a great way to host author/illustrator visits and give back to the school. Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) or the like are great resources to request funding. Think about writing a grant. Check with your local Lion’ Club, Chamber of Commerce or American Legion Auxiliary club, Veteran of Foreign Wars (VFW) for grant opportunities; don’t forget about local business partners. Some divisions have education foundations that may be able to provide financial assistance. Finally, if you utilize all of your resources and still need funding, ask your administrator. Have a plan and you can make a strong case for this event.
What will you need the funds to cover? You should plan for the honorarium (this can range from $35.00 and up, I do mean really up). In addition to the honorarium, you must budget for travel; either by plane, train or automobile. If presentations are early in the morning, they will need to arrive the day before, therefore lodging will be necessary and please don’t forget you really should feed your guest. The day before the presentation, if time and the author/illustrator are amendable, I arrange a dinner with the team (I pay for the author/illustrator meal). Breakfast may not be necessary, but if they are at your school for the entire day, a nice lunch is appreciated.
Next week, let’s see what authors/illustrators say about successful author visits.