Part 1 of a two-part School Visit Series
Even with two decades behind chalkboards and podiums, I was nervous thinking about visiting elementary schools as a children’s book author. But after meeting nearly 600 children in grades K-4 in two states and in three days, my confidence is restored.
In this first of two posts about Kid Lit authors in the classroom, I share six steps to help you ace your visits. Next week, my writing and teaching friends stop by to offer top tips for moving your school event to the head of the class.
This is an update to an original post 2014 September on authors in schools.
1. FIND ‘EM
It’s easier to do classroom visits if you have kids attending elementary or pre-school; more more challenging to get your foot in the door if you don’t. And shy authors, take heart: it takes just one successful visit experience to spread the word about you to other schools and teachers.
Personal connections open doors. Ask everyone (family, friends, neighbors, work colleagues, clubs, church/synagogue, etc.) to share school contacts, and get consent to use their name for introductions.
If you can’t find contacts, do an Internet search to identify media specialists in a target school. Media specialist is a term often used today for librarian, and you know how librarians love to promote literacy.
2. BEFORE THE VISIT
Save angst by ensuring everyone understands who’s doing what, when and where before you step in the classroom.
Prepare plenty of fun, colorful freebies for each child, like bookmarks, rack cards or coloring pages.
Add your contact information on this material so parents and staff can find you once the day is done. If it’s okay with school policy, I also draw names to give one a child in each grade a signed copy of my book.
3. DURING THE VISIT
Instead of faces, shoot the tops and backs of those sweet heads or a close up of hands writing or drawing. Be prepared for at least one lil darlin’ to turn around and face you as you click your perfect shot -- LOL!
Arrange for school staff to snap you while you’re working with students, and bring an easy-to-use smart phone or point-and-shoot camera for them to use. To add interest, capture building façades and iconic visuals like art projects, libraries, or bulletin boards.
You finished your first round of visits. Now sit back and relax.
But don't rest too long. It's already time to start planning your next visit.
Coming Next in this Blog Series
PART 2: 10 Kid Lit Pros Share School Visit Secrets
Next week, Kid Lit authors and elementary educators drop by to share school visit secrets that will move you to the head of the class.
But before you go, don't be shy. What tips could you add to these steps? And what's your take on charging a fee for author classroom visits?
I love learning new things and am grateful to you for sharing ideas.
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The writing journey is a long one. And with all that social media and technology in the mix, it's easy to feel overloaded. To make it easier, I share angst-saving tips found along my way. I'm still learning, so please join me. Let's travel this writing journey and learn together.
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