This is the first time our school will be taking part in WBD. I would like to dedicate the whole day to sharing and enjoying books across both Key Stages. Do you have any advice for finding an author/s that would visit the school to run sessions/activities that budding authors could be inspired by? Ideally, for a nominal fee!
What a fantastic question and it’s certainly a good idea to start thinking now about booking your author. It’s quite usual for some authors to get booked up a year in advance for World Book Day visits and activities so the more planning you can do, the better!
I think author visits have provided our school with some of the best experiences our students have had around reading. The ability to meet and listen to a favourite author or to listen to an author that you’ve not heard of before enthuse and excite about their book is amazing. We try to mix up the kinds of students that come to our author events too, with students who really enjoy reading and will get a buzz from the visit, but also some students who we have recognised as being disengaged with reading. This can have a massive impact on both sets of students for completely different reasons, with those disengaged readers suddenly wanting to buy or borrow that author’s book – this can quite often be the spur that turns them into a fully fledged reader! But no matter who the author is and who attends, students still talk about it years after, showing the impact that something quite simple can have.
When choosing an author to come in and visit or run a workshop, it’s worthwhile spending some time thinking about what you might want them to do. Is it just a simple talk about their books or do you want them to run a workshop? It’s also worth thinking if you want them to physically be in the school doing the talk. This may sound strange, but a lot of authors do Skype tours, meaning that you can either have a visit from an author in a different country or a completely different experience of an author visit! You might also want to think about whether you want a fiction author or non-fiction author to come and talk to students.
It’s also worthwhile asking other schools in your local area if they have had any author visits recently. Recommendations from other schools about authors they have had are brilliant as they will be able to tell ou exactly what the author did, who they worked best with, etc. You may also find out that you have some excellent authors in your local area. Some of our best visits have been from local authors, as they have had very similar experiences to our students – they maybe even went to the same or a familiar school in the area.
There are a number of really good websites that you might like to look at. Sites such as www.authorsalouduk.co.uk, www.authorsabroad.com and www.contactanauthor.co.uk can help you find an author for a visit, and the latter even sets out it with specfic criteria as to what you might be looking for. You might also want to look at www.patronofreading.co.uk which is about setting up a patron of reading in your school -a fantastic idea that can make a real impact on reading in your school. The website gives you lots of information about the process and some excellent case studies about schools that have already taken part and the types of activities that the authors have worked with them on.
When deciding upon the author that you would like to come in school it’s also a really good idea to talk to the authors or their agents on the specfics of what you would like them to do. Not only is this good in making sure that you get the visit that you want but it also means that your author is aware of the types of activities you would like them to do and so can work with you on the best visit for everyone.
Where costs are concerned, you should also build travel expenses for the author into any budget you might have. Authors that travel from a distance may also need their accomodation paid for. This is why it is a good idea to think about either a local author or attempting something like a Skype visit. The Society of Authors recommends that members should charge between £300-£500 for half a day to a day. Some authors do vary though, so it’s worth talking to them in advance, but if money is an issue, you could arrange for your author to visit another local school on the same day, and then share the cost between you. If you are a primary school, then it might also be worth talking to your local secondary schools, as they might be willing to work with you too.