Sunday 25 February 2018

Why Authors Enjoy Visiting Schools by Jo Franklin

The weeks surrounding World Book Day are very busy for children's authors. Many will be fully booked with school visits for three weeks, followed by three weeks recovery time as they catch every cold, flu and vomiting virus that have been incubating and mutating in schools all year.

Schools are keen to get an author in on the actual day - 1st March in 2018 - in the hope of ...

Hmm ... what do schools want from an author visit? And why do authors want to visit schools?
Jo Franklin

I've never been a teacher or a school librarian so I can't really answer for what schools want. I hope they want some or all of the following things :

  • Their children to be inspired to read a book that they may have never heard of before because they are able to put a face to the author's name on the cover
  • To meet a role model of someone who has carved out a career in the arts. Many children's authors are female, but by no means all. A woman or man with a successful career in the arts - I hope that is an important message for both girls and boys to hear.
  • The life blood of the author - books, writing and reading - is so strong that it spreads through the school like a wild fire.
  • That children realise that reading and writing are important, special, fantastic and more fun than You Tube videos.
These are certainly the things I want to leave behind when I visit a school. I love meeting my readers and talking about books.

Children's authors spend a lot of time in their writing caves with their own thoughts and fountain pens. The rest of the time they seek out other writers to talk about how their writing is going (or not going) - word count, frustrations with publishers, crazy requests from schools!
Talking to children about books is particularly special though. We write because we love it and we want readers to love our writing. Children's authors have a passion for words, sentences and stories. Most of us don't have much time for grammar with long meaningful names (fronted adverbial, no thanks). We love libraries and our homes are stuffed with books. We live, breathe and eat words every day.

Authors Love Books!

So schools, if you invite an author into your school (whether around World Book Day or another time) allow them to inspire your children. 
  • Make a display on your noticeboard. 
  • Tell the children they are meeting a celebrity.  
  • Buy the author's books for your library. 
  • Beg the author to hang around at the end of the day to sign books the children have bought. 
  • Please don't treat us a nuisance, a supply teacher or a money grabbing drain on your scarce financial resources. We don't visit schools to make money. We need to be paid because we are skilled professionals. We visit schools to share the love of words. 
This year on World Book Day 1st March 2018 I am visiting Harris Primary Merton to talk about Help I'm a Genius and what it is like to be a full time writer. I can't wait!

Jo Franklin

1 comment:

Sue Bursztynski said...

Yep, I have done all those things you mention, plus making sure the library has some of that author’s books and asking bookloving students to read them before the talk so that they can appreciate it more and ask questions. Those, in turn, lead to more questions by other students, I always buy at least one copy of one of the author’s books as a prize for the best or most interesting question(the author gets to choose the winner). I contact the local paper about the visit. The author gets lunch in the staff room, ordered from the canteen. At the end of the talk, one of my book club members presents the author with a small gift, usually chocolates.

I have been known to drag the guest into one of my classes if they turn up early! :) Better than leaving them alone while I teach. The one I mean was Will Kostakis, who was very obliging. We were on our way to have a cuppa before his session when my book club members burst in and did the fan thing! He was nice about that too. VERY nice!

But I would NEVER leave them to get on with it, and our staff are there to make sure the kids behave, not to slack off. I do realise that there are schools where that happens. I’ve posted about it a couple of times on my own blog.