Many teachers and librarians are intimidated to approach authors. As an author myself, I’m here to tell you that authors don’t bite. In fact, we are actively looking for ways to partner with schools, libraries and classrooms to get students excited about reading (and writing!). You may be avoiding author partnerships because you think authors are just too darn expensive. Not true! Many authors are willing to partner with schools for free, especially when it comes to digital visits via Skype or Google Hangouts.
There are many benefits of connecting with an author in your classroom or library. When students are able to interact with real authors, it…
- Demystifies the writing process
- Opens a world of possibilities for students
- Empowers students to create their own stories
- Creates a personal connection to the author’s work
- Generates excitement about reading that translates to other titles
Here are a few of my favorite ways to connect:
1. Skype and Google Hangouts
One of the best parts of digital author visits, is that many authors (including me) offer them for free! In addition, they allow you to connect with authors anywhere in the world. It’s a fast and easy way to show students that authors are ordinary people, just like them. The visits can take any form you like, from a 30-minute Q&A (my favorite), to career day talks to lessons focused on a specific topic. To find authors who offer free Skypes or Google Hangouts:
- Check out Skype in the Classroom
- Connect with Read Local OK authors: https://readlocalok.com/skype-visits/
- Connect with a panel of spooky middle grade authors: https://spookymiddlegrade.com/
- Visit your favorite author’s website to find out if they offer free visits
#KidsNeedMentors is an awesome program that pairs educators across the U.S. with authors. Each educator/author team will then collaborate throughout the year. Each collaboration is different and depends on the individual educator’s needs. For more info, hop on Twitter and contact one of the founders: @Jarrett_Lerner, @KCreadsALOT, @KPStars5.
3. Connect via Twitter
Not on Twitter yet? It’s a great way for educators to connect with authors. Here are some of the cool things you can find and do on Twitter.
- Win free books
- #kidsneedbooks, #bookgiveaway, #MGgiveaway
- Participate in Twitter chats with educators & authors
- Follow authors and other educators to see what they’re doing
- Learn about new ways to connect
- Enter ongoing contests
4. Give Flipgrid a Try
Flipgrid is an awesome tool that allows educators to host their own pages featuring student videos and commentary. In addition, they can invite authors to contribute by posting videos about their books, reading their first chapter, etc. For an awesome example of an educator who has successfully partnered with authors on Flipgrid, check out https://flipgrid.com/authorconnection by @MissNikkiIn5th.
Need more reasons to seek out author partnerships for your classroom or library? Read this article from The Guardian entitled, “School visits by authors boost children’s writing confidence”: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2010/nov/09/author-school-visit-writing-confidence
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
KIM VENTRELLA is the author of the middle grade novels Skeleton Tree (2017) and Bone Hollow (2019, Scholastic Press), and she is a contributor to the upcoming New Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark anthology (2020, HarperCollins). Her works explore difficult topics with big doses of humor, whimsy and hope. Kim has held a variety of interesting jobs, including children’s librarian, scare actor, Peace Corps volunteer, French instructor and overnight staff person at a women’s shelter, but her favorite job title is author. She lives in Oklahoma City with her dog and co-writer, Hera. Find out more at https://kimventrella.com/ or follow Kim on Twitter and Instagram: @KimVentrella.