Have you ever tried a Virtual Author Visit? Author visits can be so rewarding for students and schools. I still remember the author’s visit from when I was in elementary school! It’s best to have the classroom teacher as well as yourself read the author’s books to the students before the visit. You can do something similar to One School, One Book (or maybe 2 books to make it more appropriate for the age groups.). Schools gain a community feeling around an author that is visiting.
Finding an Author
Finding an author to do a virtual visit is much easier than finding one who can travel to your school. Below are some websites I found that should help you get started. These include individual author websites and publisher websites. However, doing a Google search for author visits will be the easiest way to find an author.
- Penguin Young Reader
- Random House Children’s Books
- Lonnil Lane Marketing
- Bruce Hale
- Grace Lin
- David A. Kelly
- Peggy Thomas
- Kate Messner
Paying for a Virtual Author Visit
You may realize that you cannot afford some of the biggest names, BUT that doesn’t mean you cannot ask for these funds either. You will need to figure out how many sessions are needed. Some authors will only allow 100 people max per session. Some also give discounts when you purchase multiple sessions. You will need to check what the author’s stipulations are. Ask the PTO if they will fund the visit. Ask your principal about funds for the author visit. Sometimes principals have Title 1 money that can be used to pay for an author. My school has done this on multiple occasions. Don’t be afraid to ask! If it cannot happen this year, maybe it could the following year. This could be an easy way for you to have a discussion about the benefits of an author visit to a school.
Preparing for a Virtual Author Visit
Once you have booked an author, it is a good idea to prepare your students for the experience. Set clear expectations for the visit. Remind them how to be good listeners. Discuss with them the importance of not shouting out questions and comments while the author is talking. Depending on the number of students participating in a session, you may need to come up with more specific guidelines.
It is also important to familiarize your students with the author and his/her books ahead of time. Read as many of their books as you can and give them a background on the author. Ask the author if they provide time for questions. If they do, have students prepare questions ahead of time. Then when it’s time for the Q & A, the questions are ready to go. You can choose specific students to ask the questions or you can ask the author the questions yourself. So much of this will depend on the author’s preferences.
Check with the author to see if they have a process in place for students to purchase books the author has written. Sometimes an author will even sign the books before shipping them to your school.
The most important piece of advice I can give you is to check your technology! Make sure everything is working correctly. Have a second person on hand to help you deal with any technical issues that arise so you can focus on keeping the students on task and communicate with the author about the problems you are having. You should also do a trial run using the same meeting method.
After an Author Visit
After the visit, it is important to provide time for the students to respond to what they saw and heard. Collaborate with the classroom teacher and plan some lessons together. Give students time to write and draw their own stories. Re-read some of the author’s books and have students share how their opinion of the book has changed after listening to the author. Don’t forget to have students write a thank-you letter or card to the author!