What event can create a buzz across many grade levels, foster parent involvement, and inspire students? An author visit!
5 reasons we recommend having an author visit
- An author visit provides the whole school with a common learning experience.
- An author visit lends authenticity and credibility to the reading and writing process.
- An author visit is a great way to get parents and the community involved in student learning.
- An author visit inspires excitement, and gives students a goal to work toward.
- An author visit is a rich experience that students not only learn from but remember for a long time.
Our school enjoyed a visit with Dandi Daley Mackall (dandibooks.com), author of several titles, including Rudy Rides the Rails. In the months leading up to her visit our kids eagerly researched her biographical information, and through structured activities became familiar with her writing style. While they enjoyed getting to know her and anticipated her visit, they were enamored with her books — each one inspired excitement and remained checked out!
Dandi spent a whole day with us. She led three grade-appropriate workshops in the morning where she discussed the writing process and answered questions about her books and characters, and then she led an all-school assembly in the afternoon.
• • •
Here are a few questions we asked:
Question: Which part of speech is your favorite in writing?
Dandi: Verbs! You can do so much with verbs. They either make a story come alive and pull a reader in, or they make it really boring.
Question: Do you really edit/revise ALL your stories?
Dandi: I edit all the stories I want to become final copies, or published books. I edit many times myself and then I have author friends I send them to as well. We like to edit for each other because we see different things to improve the writing. When all that editing is done, I send it to my publishing company and they have people edit it as well!
Question: What do you do when you can’t think of what to write?
Dandi: I take a walk. Being outside and looking at people or animals or nature is really inspiring. Sometimes taking a break is just what I need! I also pull out other things I have already written but not published and work on editing or rewriting them.
Question: How do you become a famous writer?
Dandi: Write every day. Keep an idea folder or journal and keep all of the things you write in a safe place so that you can come back to them. Be ready to hear “NO”, and then keep trying. Read a lot, so that you know what good writing looks and sounds like, and so that you know what has already been written.
While author visits take a lot of planning, they are very rewarding and well worth the effort!
Jami Spaulding is a life-long learner and lover of books. She has taught nearly every elementary grade level in a variety of settings and is currently an elementary librarian at Lincoln Christian School, Lincoln NE. She loves helping kids discover their unique voices and connecting them to great books. Her favorite job is raising her own three readers. You can follow her on twitter at @jamibookmom.