“So,” Carol said as she sat down at the table. “I have a few tips for authors who make school visits.”
Was her voice perhaps a tad too cheerful, her eyes suspiciously bright? Was I about to be enlightened as to the many things I'd been doing wrong for three days? To an author who was in the middle of a seven-day school visit thanks to the librarian sitting across from me, it was the kind of opener that made my blood run momentarily cold.
Never fear. What followed at dinner and for the rest of my stay was a lively dialogue about authors, school visits, author fees, presentations, material covered, how to handle noisy audiences, websites, and more.
I had tips for the schools, too, about the preparation they need to do, and the limits of how much an author can change children’s attitudes about editing, and the groupings of grade levels.
What Carol talked about made great good sense, but my brain was so much mush at the end of seven days that I asked Carol if she'd write her tips down. What she sent to me is a primer for any author who’s interested in making school visits and I’m going to share with you this week.
Carol is the President of The Literacy Connection, a committee of nine retired librarians in the Tri-City area of Washington State who’ve made it their mission to bring authors and illustrators to their schools every year for the past twenty years so that their children will learn to be excited about books and reading.
In the course of ten days at the end of October, I visited 12 schools and spoke to 28 groups ranging in size from 75-100 children up to 400+ in either the media center or the gym. At every single one of those schools, I was met at the door by a beaming, welcoming librarian, or picked up from my hotel by one.
I’ve never met an unhappy school librarian. Certainly not in
(Yes, I know they’re called media specialists, but that’s too cold a term for me. Besides, what media are they specialists in other than books? Anyone can call themselves a specialist these days, but librarians truly are: both about books and the hearts and minds of children.)
Whenever I want to know what children are reading, or what kinds of books they’re looking for, or how they feel about books, I talk to a school librarian.
They know a lot and they aren’t shy. I'm eternally grateful to Carol for her generosity in sharing her sage advice. Stay tuned.
Oh, but before I leave ... the 6th Annual Novel Writing Retreat at Vermont College of the Fine Arts, Montpelier, VT, will be held on March 19-2. Faculty include Uma Krishnaswami, E Lockhart, and Nancy Mercado, editor at Roaring Brook Press. For more information, email Sarah Aronson at email@example.com.