Quick Write: Author Visits

I’m sitting here on a rain filled Sunday trying to get ready for the school week. After a great visit to Parma Elementary last week by Tom Angleberger, I can’t stop thinking about the importance of author visits. I understand that schools are strapped for cash, PTAs are being pulled each and every way, and building principals are trying to make sure they have enough pencils to get through the year, but kids NEED author visits.

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In the last 12 months the students at Parma Elementary have been blessed to welcome Janet Tashjian, Linda Urban, Andy Griffiths, and Tom Angleberger. On top of that more than 80 students from Parma attended Nerd Camp Junior this past summer where 12 authors worked with kids.

Last Monday during independent reading I looked around my classroom and saw kids reading a book by each one of the authors that we have had visit Parma: Linda Urban’s Hound Dog True, Andy Griffith’s 13 and 26 Story Treehouse, Linda Urban’s Mouse Was Mad, Janet Tashjian’s Einstein the Class Hamster, and about 7 kids reading an Origami Yoda book.

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My students are excited about reading, they see authors as rock stars and they cannot wait for the next author to walk through the doors of Parma Elementary. I have heard people say over and over again that their school cannot afford author visits.

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I don’t know how you can afford to not have author visits.

Our students need to meet authors. Skype is great, but an in house author visit, when done right, is as magical a school day as you will ever experience. Kids just want to touch authors. It’s almost as if they are checking to see if they are real.

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I’m guessing that if we stopped giving  kindergarteners computerized tests and Accelerated Reader a whole lot of kids could experience the magic of an author visit.

I’m hoping that your students and your children get the chance to hang out with an author during the school year.

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4 thoughts on “Quick Write: Author Visits

  1. While I agree overall, I wanted to vouch for Accelerated Reader. In and of itself, it is not evil. It just depends on how it is used. My students can read any book they want. We use AR more as a reading log and an analytical tool for genre, read-alouds, and an indication of reading level. Many times each year, I have students who think of themselves as readers because of the evidence with AR. All those passing grades for a student who rarely succeeds brings smiles to their faces and put books in their hands.

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  2. Thanks for this reminder Colby… it is so important to make this concrete and personal for our young readers and writers. We need to think more about encouraging our partner schools to engage in author “visits.”
    Clare and Tammy

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  3. You do a great job of showing some of the tangible effects of an author visit.

    One of the challenges for today’s schools, I think, is that they can’t quantify the results from an author visit. It’s going to impact some students in a profound way, many students in some unknown way. . . and it won’t touch some students at all.

    But as a children’s author/illustrator whose life was changed by an author visit in 5th grade (who knew that books could be made by regular people??), I can attest to the long-dormant seeds that author visits can plant. In my own school visits now, I don’t expect—or even WANT—every student to decide to become an author. I want each student to think about his/her own life, and maybe, just maybe, dream a little bigger than he/she had before the visit. Breaking down that head-wall of “I’ll never be good enough to . . .” is the goal. And getting even a portion of the students at school visits to think more expansively about their lives is worth every penny of the expense of the visits.

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