I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the power of author visits. The students at Parma Elementary have had quite the year. We’ve been blessed to have a few authors visit our school and we hosted Nerd Camp Junior last summer.
Here are a handful thoughts that I have on author visits.
1. Kids Read Author Visit Books Long After the Author Leaves
Andy Griffiths visited my school last spring. Chances are if you visited my classroom you’d find his books in a handful of students’ seat sacks (we don’t have desks). I don’t think that it would come to a surprise to anyone that after an author visit kids would be reading the books by the author, but we are 6+ months and a whole school year later, and kids are still devouring books by the authors that visited our school last year. My first grade daughter carries around her copy of The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow like it is made of gold.
2. Kids Write More
Another no brainer, but I’ve found that when my students meet authors they write more. They take the advice that authors spew and try to put it in their own writing. I can teach my kids revision until the cows come home, and they are still hesitant. Linda Urban or Janet Tasjhian can talk revision and the kids are all about it.
A photo posted by Colby Sharp (@colbysharp) on Jul 7, 2014 at 2:53pm PDT
3. They Want More Authors to Visit
If you bring authors to your school, your students will want you to bring more authors to your school. My students are always asking me when their favorite author is going to visit. “Hey, Mr. Sharp! Do you think we could get that Amulet author to visit Parma later this year? What about Kate DiCamillo? I think she’d really like Parma.” This is a good problem to have. I like that my students see authors as people that would enjoy hanging out with us.
4. Students Take Pride in Their School
Hosting an author is a full time job. I’m sure you’ve seen some of Mr. Schu’s Vines/Tweets/Videos of how amazing his library looks when an author visits. My students want to impress authors. They want authors to feel welcome. I think that my students have learned so much about being a good host and doing things the right way by hosting authors.
5. Author Visits Need to be Done Right
I need to write a whole post on this one.
The success of an author visit is 80% teacher/librarian preperation and 20% author delivery. Those numbers are not exact. It may be more like 90% teacher/librarian prep. The bottom line: if you don’t prepare our students like the author visit is a huge deal and extremely important it is just another assembly. I have been in an author visit where some classrooms are prepared and some classrooms are just at another assembly. It’s not pretty. It’s not cool. It’s not fun. A couple of classrooms not prepared can totally change the vibe of an author visit.
I have so much more to say on this topic. More to come!