Are you a teacher who is looking to offer your class an exciting experience? Do you want to build excitement about books and writing? Or maybe your class is working on a project and you want them to publish it? Are looking for an author who can give you motivation, advice and encouragement? Yes! An author will definitely do that! But, how can you afford one without leaving your PTA broke?
(Read my post 5 Reasons to bring an author to your Classroom for inspiration)
You don’t have to bring in J.K. Rowling. Sure you could ask her if she’d come at no cost. Maybe she would. (If she does, let me know and I’ll contact her myself!) There are other authors though that will be more than willing to come visit.
- Hit the web! You can find several directories of authors who visit schools by going online. Sites like Author-Ilustrators or the literary giant Scholastic have lists of children’s authors who are willing to do school visits. They even offer you tips on how to plan a visit and ways to fundraise for the event. Maybe if you are interested in a particular author that’s the way to do it. But, seriously, fundraising? It sounds like you’ll need a lot of dough!
Target offers grants to schools and other institutions that bring art and culture into the classroom, and that includes school visits. The downside is that you have to apply by a certain date and well, wait to see if you are selected. Anyway, this is their website.
But there are easier ways to bring authors to your class!
- Check with your local Writer’s Association. A quick search on google will guide you to their website, blog or Facebook page. This is what I found when I searched ‘Oklahoma City writers’
The next step would be contacting the association you chose and asking them to refer you to children’s authors. There are many local authors willing to visit schools at a nominal fee or no cost to you! Make sure the one you choose is right for your class by researching the authors’ work. Most authors would be delighted to provide you with a PDF copy of their book and an outline of their school visit plan. Authors will most likely ask if they could send order forms with your students. Sending order forms with students and other teachers are the easier way to support the author who is spending his or her time with your class. Chances are that most authors use the money they earn from book orders to produce more high-quality books to keep on promoting literacy. That’s what I do when I visit local schools!
- Bring an author from another state (or country)… without an airfare ticket! Crazy, huh? But not so much anymore. Have you ever heard of Skype? Did you know they have a program called Skype in the Classroom? Have you ever heard of Google Hangouts? It’s an online video conference room. Now, do you have a computer with a screen (maybe a smart board) in your classroom? Do you have access to the internet or could you request it? Are you making the connection? That is the new trend in schools around America and the world. You could potentially host ANY guest speaker who is signed up for those programs! What I like about Skype is that it offers ‘lessons’. For example, these are mine:
- Before scheduling a lesson on Skype, make sure it’s appropriate for your school aged children by requesting additional information (their website or even a PDF copy of the book) and find out if there is a cost by contacting the guest speaker by email or phone. Every author is different. In my case, I do not charge for lessons, but I ask teachers if they don’t mind sending order forms for autographed books. In that case, teachers only have to collect orders with payment and mail them to me. I mail the books to them within a few days. Of course they are also free to order from Amazon but it gets a little more expensive. I’m flexible and I’m always willing to work a deal and make it easy-peasy for all of us. Make sure you work out those details before scheduling a visit. You can sign up for free in Skype in the Classroom HERE Add me by typing ‘marianallanos’ on seach box. There are great authors and guest speakers, and you can search them by topic too.There is also this list where you can find authors who do Skype for free (I’m working on having my name added to that list!): AUTHORS WHO SKYPE
Can you imagine the possibilities? You don’t have to leave your classroom, and the world can come to you! Skype or Google Hangouts provide you with an excellent tool to show your students that the world is broad, but it’s still one place. Teachers, building literacy takes a team, let an author be your partner in fostering the love for reading and writing.
Mariana Llanos is a Peruvian born author based in Oklahoma City. She’s authored five children’s books available on Amazon. She has visited several schools across Oklahoma and she’s working on visiting several more across the world! She writes with the heart of a mother and the imagination of a child. Her favorite thing to do is visit schools and spark children’s imagination. Visit her at www.marianallanos.com