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:
Over the past few years, I’ve watched the number of requests for virtual visits go up quite a bit. Part of this is because schools and libraries have had their budgets for author visits slashed, and part may just be because more people have access to speedy Internet and other technology that’s needed for a virtual visit to work.
Either way, virtual author/illustrator visits can be a great way to enable direct interaction between book creators and readers without the costs of an in-person visit. While authors usually still ask for an honorarium for virtual visits, often their honorarium is lower and travel costs are not an issue. Some authors also offer a free shorter (10-20 minute) virtual visit to classrooms or libraries who have purchased copies of their books. Here’s how to set up your first virtual author visit.
1. Set up the technology
Sometimes when I work with people who are thinking about setting up a virtual visit, they get a little panicky about the technology aspect. But virtual visits are actually quite easy, and don’t require all that much in the way of equipment. Here’s a basic list of what you’ll need:
- An operating system compatible with Skype, Google Hangout, or another similar program
I did my first Skype visit last week. It was with the students of a publishing course being taught by Simmons College at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts, that needed a guest speaker. My visit was scheduled for Friday, which is the dress down day at the office, so I wore a dress shirt with jeans and sneakers and donned the spare tie I keep in the office. I looked presentable from the waist up.