The ABC's of a Successful Author/Illustrator Visit
by Esther Hershenhorn
“Authors and illustrators are the ultimate literacy initiative.” So says Toni Buzzeo, children’s book author, library media specialist and co-author (with Jane Kurtz) of Terrific Connections with Authors, Illustrators, and Storytellers (Libraries Unlimited), the ultimate guide to connecting children’s book creators with their readers. According to Buzzeo, author/illustrator visits:
In an effort to help school teachers and librarians plan a truly memorable visit for young readers with an author or illustrator, we've compiled some good things to know and remember.
- Connect kids to books in ways far more powerful than reading and sharing.
- Give kids an appreciation of the process used to create the books they love.
- Offer kids the opportunity to interact with people who make writing and illustrating their careers, thereby modeling this possibility for students.
- Significantly forward a school’s literacy efforts.
Q: What is THE source for finding children’s book authors and illustrators eager to visit schools, libraries, bookstores and other public venues?
A: The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators! Most of SCBWI’S Chapters around the world offer Speakers Directories. These lists of talented professionals enable educators, librarians and special event planners to match their needs with the perfect presenter. Click here to link to the most current listing of Speakers Directories and/or contact persons for the SCBWI Chapter nearest you.
Q: Are there reference books available?
A: Yes! Check out:
Q: What children’s titles will help students prepare for an author visit?
A: We recommend:
- Eve Bunting, MY SPECIAL DAY AT THIRD STREET SCHOOL (Boyds Mills)
- Robin Pulver, AUTHOR DAY FOR ROOM 3T (Clarion)
- Louise Borden, THE DAY EDDIE MET THE AUTHOR (Margaret McElderry)
- Daniel Pinkwater, AUTHOR’S DAY (Atheneum)
- Leonard Marcus, AUTHOR TALK (Simon & Schuster)
- THE WAND IN THE WORD (Candlewick)
Q: What are some sources for funding school visits?
A: First and foremost, consider SCBWI’s Amber Brown Fund Grant, which funds a deserving school’s author/illustrator visit. To learn more about this singular opportunity visit: the Amber Brown Grant page.
Additionally, check out:
Or try funding your visit through donations using:
The following corporations also offer literacy grants:
Q: Are there ways to share the costs with other groups?
A: Yes! Consider piggy-backing! Check with local and state SCBWI Chapters, local and state Reading Councils and Libraries, area education associations, area bookstores, community book fairs and literacy events, newspapers, radio and tv stations and publishers to learn of already-booked author/illustrator appearances. Offer to share expenses in exchange for a visit to your group!
Chicagoan Esther Hershenhorn authors award-winning picture books and middle grade fiction, teaches Writing for Children classes and coaches writers of all ages to help them tell their stories. She serves as SCBWI-Illinois’ Regional Advisor, as well as on SCBWI’s Board of Advisors. No one believes her when she shares this truth: once upon a time and not that long ago, she was very, very shy.