Visiting Authors…Are they worth the trouble and the expense?

Visiting Authors….Are they worth the trouble and expenses?

By Barbara W. Boyer
Elementary School Librarian, Shanghai American School – Pudong Campus

ABSOLUTELY! I won’t keep you in suspense about this topic. I am so grateful to be working at a school that supports a visiting author program for its students. Since the beginning of school this year, we have had two international authors who have visited the Shanghai American School elementary school. Trevor Lai (Ralphy in Space - http://www.ralphy.ca) and Margriet Ruurs (Emma’s Egg- http://www.margrietruurs.com), together spent over 50 hours with our elementary students and teachers, and several parents too!

Top 10 reasons for having an author visit your children’s school:

#1 Authors are great role models for the writing process. From a student point of view, these people actually like rewriting!  Gasps are heard through the crowd when students hear from authors the number of times a piece of writing is rewritten before it is finally good enough for publishing….50-60 times according to Margriet Ruurs.

#2 Authors help students realize that writing is an important skill that all students can develop if they are willing to practice writing (a little note, journal entry, paragraph, blog posting) regularly.   This advice is exactly the life lessons that students learn on the sports field or even playing video games to get to the next level.  One has to practice to improve.

#3 Authors help students see that one can actually have a fulfilling career in writing!  After authors have left, many students are encouraged to become writers themselves.
#4 Authors become real to students and are not some mystical stranger that has its name on a book. They are alive and hard working.  Authors have more than just writing skills, but speaking and social skills that are important when sharing ideas.
#5 Author visits at schools highlight the importance of reading and writing.  Authors are celebrated as superstars!  How amazing to see students get so excited about something that they have previously complained about!

#6 Authors can provide an objective voice in encouraging parents and teachers to read aloud, read as a family, and read individually. Can anyone ever say too much about the importance of reading!

#7 Authors can also provide wonderful professional development for educators. Teachers have an expert at the process they are teaching.

#8 Authors inspire the learning community to write their own stories. Everyone

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has a story, but the challenge is putting it on paper and for an audience! I look forward to having my own story ideas to one day becoming completed works.  Even if it is only for my family, it is still a great accomplishment.

#9 Authors bring the learning community together during their school visits. Everyone comes together for a positive experience. Families talk about the exciting events of the day and in doing so, reading and writing become part of the family dialogue.

#10 Authors sign their books!  What a wonderful personal experience for every student to be physically near a writer and to have a conversation about their mutual writing experiences. The power of the written and spoken word can be life changing for some of our students, parents, and faculty.

Author visits can have a powerful impact on your students’ education.   Please support the author programs with your time (reading the author’s books), your presence (visiting with them when they visit your child’s school), and your conversations with your child.

A great book about a visiting author is Ron Roy’s, The Absent Author, from the A to  Z Mysteries series.

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One Response to Visiting Authors…Are they worth the trouble and the expense?

  1. Barbara,
    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. It also takes much passion and love of the librarian who are hosting the authors, to really make the author program fully alive. It’s such a lot of work, and more than often times librarians get hardly any credit. So thank you!

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