In a world of ever-increasing technology – tablets, Playstations and even eBooks, it is more important than ever for parents and teachers to look for new, exciting and interesting ways to engage children with physical books to ignite a love of reading and writing.
Learning to read should be fun and children should want to read for pleasure. There’s nothing more magical than watching a child’s face light up when they discover they can read the words on a page. That moment when their imagination is sparked and an entire world of adventure is unlocked right there at their fingertips is unforgettable.
And when those adventures are brought to life by the person who wrote the words, something even more spectacular happens and that is, children become inspired and excited to write.
Author visits to schools, nurseries, libraries or local community groups are an incredible and unique way to allow children to experience the magic of books and their creation by meeting their favourite writers and discovering new ones.
Author visits are interactive and fun and bring the words, characters and illustrations in books to life.
You’ll find authors are incredibly passionate about their work, the creative process and they like to share their writing tips with children. And, somehow meeting a real author helps children to engage with a story on a completely new level.
Authors are also full of ideas for workshops which can tie into class topics and themes whether that be in English, science, geography, history or even IT.
What are the benefits of having an author visit school?
- It provides an opportunity for children to meet an author, ask questions and engage with them.
- It can help motivate and inspire children to read and write more, both in school and at home for learning and pleasure.
- An author visit can help inspire reluctant readers and writers.
- A visit from an author can help children better understand the creative process behind books.
- Author visits can help build confidence in reading and writing.
- They can help improve listening skills and spoken language.
- They can help with comprehension and understanding.
- Authors can also help spark children’s imaginations through free writing and using props.
- Having an author visit a school or nursery can build effective relationships between authors/schools and parents.
How can author visits help with Ofsted inspections?
As well as providing numerous benefits to children, author visits can also help teachers and schools tick the right boxes when it comes to Ofsted inspections. For example, author visits can help teach resilience by helping children to recognise that the creative process is challenging and you don’t always get things right first time.
They can help Ofsted recognise that a school is working towards achieving a clearer understanding of literacy with children. Having an author visit your school can give pupils the opportunity to be curious and the chance to have their work reviewed by a professional.
Author visits can also help teachers provide photographic evidence linked to a pupil’s learning journey and show that the school has provided positive and relevant experiences for children.
How do you organise an author visit?
Writers often specialise and focus their books for a particular age group. Some write in particular genres or with a certain focus in mind and others create collections of stories that develop different ideas through a series. If you find local authors in your area you can discover what they do and what they can bring to a visit to your local school often by visiting their website.
Author visits can complement existing national reading events such as World Book Day, National Storytelling Week, World Reading Day and the Summer Reading Challenges; but they can also be used to support curriculum topics and themes with many authors willing to tailor their workshops.
If you are a parent or educator, you can suggest these sorts of visits to your child’s school or nursery, highlight the benefits and explain all the things they can offer as part of it. Author visits can take many forms so the possibilities are endless.
Even with school budgets being constantly squeezed, there are ways for schools to fund author visits, either through the PTA or funding initiatives such as Crowdfunder. Some authors are also involved with projects which aim to provide visits for free. The Rural Schools Write Read Inspire Project in Shropshire is one example of this.
Once you’ve found an author you would like to work with, then find out what they offer.
Writers stem from various backgrounds and therefore have had different experiences; with that comes a whole variety of events which could be on offer.
These may include:
- A standard storytelling session with a reading and question and answer period;
- creative writing workshops,
- drama sessions,
- assembly gatherings,
- interactive sessions
- creation/craft activities.
Whatever the author offers, nothing quite ignites the atmosphere like a visit where a story is brought to life before the eyes of the children. Signed books from the author that the children can keep and take away can further inspire a child to read for pleasure and treasure the experience from a visit.
If you work in a primary school in Shropshire and you’re interested in having an author visit then do get in touch with Lorna directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or take a look at the work she does in schools here.
If you’re outside the Shropshire area then Lorna may well be able to put you in touch with an author in your area through TeamAuthorUK so do drop her a line.