School Visits

As an author and illustrator, I have been invited to give presentations at schools. In order to help facilitate this activity, I’ve put together a step by step outline of how they have worked in the past. Please note, these are not hard and fast rules, simple suggestions based on previous experiences.

1. Books:
In most cases, a few weeks before the scheduled visit, I will drop off a set of “The Adventures of the Salamander” to the school’s library. In some cases, the librarian will read the books to the children, which makes the school visit that much more exciting for the kids. After all, the goal is to inspire the children with a love of reading, so it helps if they are familiar with the stories. In every case so far, the school has offered to pay for the set of books.

2. Payment:
Some schools have offered to pay me in order to visit and make a presentation at the school. This is always a great gesture, and it makes my job that much more worthwhile. However, if your school is not in a situation which makes this option possible, I am flexible and have developed a work-around for this situation.

3. Book Order Forms:
Prior to my visit, I have found it quite rewarding to send out a brief description of my books, along with order forms for the kids to take home to their parents. Since “The Adventures of the Salamander” is such a unique story, with an innovative approach, many families opt to buy them. This method has allowed me to visit smaller schools which were not in a position to pay for my visit directly.

4. Letting the Kids Know:
Telling the kids about the visit in advance is an important part of the school visit. You don’t want to announce it too early, kids will either forget about it altogether, or lose interest if they have to wait too long. Announcing the school visit about 1 to 2 weeks in advance seems to work nicely.

5. Place:
Choosing the right place for the presentation is a necessary part of the visit. So far, most of my visits have occurred in larger areas of the school, such as an auditorium or a gymnasium. I have done school visits with only one presentation, and others with two presentations, in which case the classes came in two separate groups. I have also done presentations to a single class. For each school the best option depends on their specific situation and how their preferred approach.

6. The Presentation:
I usually begin by introducing myself and my stories to the kids. I explain how I wrote the original “Adventures of the Salamander” when I was five years old, and how it inspired me to write the new version of the story. I read them an excerpt from the stories, and show them the illustrations on an overhead projector. Then I explain some details about how I write, and how I produce my illustrations. Finally, I end by encouraging the kids to write their own stories.

7. After the Visit:
I have bookmarks with information about my books which I hand out to the kids for free. These are usually distributed to the teachers, who then give them to the students in their class. After that, the visit is officially over, and I go home.

I hope this outline has been helpful in determining how you want to approach an author school visit at your school.

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