School visits from authors and illustrators are a great way to encourage literacy, bring books to life, and allow students to view themselves as creators. For a fee, many authors and illustrators will do in-person or virtual school visits, but there are ways to incorporate an author’s perspective into literacy units that work for any budget. Here are a few suggestions:
• Find out if an author you love already has plans to visit your area. Check the inside of the book jacket for more information about the author. Authors frequently list their websites, which include contact information and possible book tour dates.
• Investigate local bookstores and your public library’s calendar of events for upcoming author tours. Many popular children’s authors visit as
speakers and book signers.
• Find an author or illustrator who already lives in your area—their honorarium is likely to be smaller, since you won’t have to cover as many travel expenses. See our Where Authors Live page for some ideas, and the blog Authors By State also lists authors who do school visits in each state.
• Too far away from popular authors or beyond the budget to schedule an in-person visit? Create a classroom project for students to write letters to a favorite author or invite the author to Skype to the whole class. Many authors and illustrators will offer discounted or even free Skype visits to classes that have used their books.
If you can’t set up an in-person or virtual visit, there are still ways to include the author in your unit of study:
• Often there are additional planning materials, videos, and interviews with children’s authors available. We have a Pinterest page called “Cinematic Magic: Book Trailers,” filled with author and illustrator interviews and book trailers. You can also find interviews and guest posts with many of our authors right here on the blog.
• Many authors and illustrators now have a presence on at least one social media site. Finding them on Twitter, Facebook, or their own blogs is often a quick and easy way to interact with them directly and allow students to ask them questions about their books.
• Explore a fantastic free education podcast called “Reading Rockets Presents: Meet the Author.” Available on itunes, “Meet the Author” enables students to enjoy interviews, videos, and transcripts of popular children’s authors. Additional author interviews are at ¡Colorín Colorado! You can also find great supplementary content on Teachingbooks.net.
Find out more about Lee & Low authors and illustrators in your area here.
Jill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.