School Visits

5 Tips for a Happy Author Visit

Fall is when most schools start thinking about a children’s author visit or residency. Here are 5 easy ways to make it a happy, productive event for everyone–especially the children:

* Make sure the students are as familiar as possible with the author’s work. It makes a HUGE difference to their level of appreciation, and there’s nothing like an enthusiastic audience to get the author psyched to give his/her best.

laughing kids

*Ask the author for copies of his/her books in advance if you don’t have them in the library. Many authors will happily send sample copies that a school can either decide to keep or return at the end of the visit.

* Make sure you know their technical requirements and have an IT person on hand to help with the (inevitable) glitches. I once had the school’s A/V system fail before a crowd of 600 kids, and it was not easy to make myself heard or “vamp” for 60 minutes when everything I needed to illustrate my points was on an ‘invisible’ slide presentation!

*Check out the author’s reputation as a presenter. Being a famous writer doesn’t guarantee an author is a good speaker. I (and a lot of teachers) once watched in dismay as a household-name author, the featured speaker at a book festival, sat on a stool and for 30 minutes delivered an off-the-cuff lecture to 400 eighth graders about why it was important to get an education. No slides, nothing  about writing, just a lecture.

*Start on time!!! Like most other authors, I have timed my presentation to the minute. When the school spends 15 valuable minutes getting students seated, making announcements, doing an introduction, it means I have to cut out something crucial, like the Q & A, or the funny ending I had planned.

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Schools work hard to come up with funds for an author visit. A few precautions like these will ensure everyone gets the most out it. Good luck with yours!


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World Book Night & Early Childhood Authors Celebration

books-001
I recently completed a residency with Melissa Pellin’s Early Childhood Education class at the Region Two School of Applied Technology in Houlton, Maine. We worked over the course of the year on writing and illustrating a children’s book. The books were published in hardcover form,two copies each, complete with ISBN’s, and we celebrated on Friday with a book launch party, combined with a book give-away to each young author, courtesy of World Book Night. (The book: “local author” Steven King’s “The Stand.”).

It was an amazing experience for all involved, and kudos are owed to first-year-teacher Ms. Pellin for her hard work, and to last-year-Principal Michael Howard (he’s retiring) for his vision in making this happen. And, of course, to the authors and illustrators for their hard work and creativity.

I’m sure the future holds good things for Melissa, the graduating students, and Mr. Howard. Bravo!

Pictured here are eight of the authors with their books, and the gift they gave Mr. Howard to celebrate his retirement: a canvas covered in famous Maine children’s books, along with their books.

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Write Across America: celebrate with “The Seuss-inator”

Need a new angle for Dr. Seuss’s birthday? Tired of “Cat in the Hat” parties?  This year, celebrate the good doctor’s birthday and Read Across America by writing your own Dr. Seuss-style story.

As a Seuss fan and author of a half dozen of my own  rhyming books, I’ve developed a special “Dr. Seussinator” mini-writing workshop for elementary school children in which they write their own version of a Seuss favorite.

This year, send the kids home with their very own rhyming book. Make it  “Read AND Write Across America” Day!

Here’s my birthday wish to all children for this day:

One fish

Two fish

Here’s my

YOU wish:

Small tots

(all tots)

Read lots.

Write lots.

[Workshop details here.]

 

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Oh, Malese!

The third grade students at Northfield Elementary School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee made this book of Please, Malese! with their own illustrations. It is a thing of beauty.

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