Susan Fletcher, Author of Dragon’s Milk, Shadow Spinner, Alphabet of Dreams (and many more)
SCBWI ) an author visit can:
• Connect kids to books in ways far more powerful than reading and sharing.
• Give kids an appreciation of the process used to create the books they love.
• Offer kids the opportunity to interact with people who make writing and illustrating their careers, thereby modeling this possibility for students.
• Significantly forward a school’s literacy efforts.
My personal experience bears out the idea that meeting a “real-live” author (or illustrator) inspires ideas, creativity and aspirations. With this in mind, and the belief that all kids (and their teachers) will be enriched by special opportunities, I asked Susan Fletcher, (friend and) award winning children’s book author and experienced “visiting author” for suggestions on how to make the most of an author visit. These are her ideas, based on long experience.
2. Prepare the author: Send a letter or email confirming the date, time(s), financial arrangements and directions to your school. It is helpful to specify exactly when each session will begin and end, what grades will attend each session, and any special information, interests or needs that will help make the most of the experience for your students. Also, don’t forget to include the name of the author’s staff contact for the day of the visit.
5. Beware the autographing trap: Autographs are fun, but can get out of hand. You might set aside a time just for autographing and consider limiting the number of autographs per student. Some authors provide a pre-autographed bookmark which can be copied and distributed to students.
The Funding Challenge
Funding an author or illustrator visit can be challenge in this economy. SCBWI offers the following suggestions and resources for funding school visits.
First and foremost, consider SCBWI’s Amber Brown Fund Grant, which funds a deserving school’s author/illustrator visit. To learn more about this singular opportunity click on "Awards & Grants" on the menu above, then chose "Amber Brown Grant." Click here to download an application.
- State and local arts councils
- State and local library associations
- State and local reading councils
- The International Reading Association
- The American Library Association
Additionally, check out:
- Lee & Low--Literacy Grants
- Donors Choose
- The Foundation Center
- National Youth Development Information Center’s database of Federal and State Grants
- Foundations Grantmakers Directory
- School Grants
Consider piggy-backing! Check with local and state SCBWI Chapters, local and state Reading Councils and Libraries, area education associations, area bookstores, community book fairs and literacy events, newspapers, radio and tv stations and publishers to learn of already-booked author/illustrator appearances. Offer to share expenses in exchange for a visit to your group!
Do you have any other ideas or suggestions? Share them here please.