One thing I am not super great at but think is important is author visits. There are authors and illustrators you’ve never heard of that can be had for free or cheap but you need to make sure they’re engaging. Ones you’ve heard of are much more expensive and whenever I have money, I also have a list of books I want to buy. Plus, if you have the money and find the right author it’s a logistical nightmare working more than one presentation around lunches and recess and Specials and field trips and whatnot.
But it IS important. It can be a real inspiration to some of the students and teachers can do so much with a good experience like that.
So even though it was a lot of work, I am very happy how our full day visit from author David Biedrzycki (Ba-DREE-key) went last week!
I booked him for four presentations and he was here last Monday. He won our state’s picture book award (voted on by students) and sent out an email last spring to many of us, offering his services. I jumped right on it because Breaking News: Bear Alert is one of the rare picture books that is a fun read aloud from K through 5. And the fun thing about a fun presenter like this is even if some kid don’t care about this particular book, they learn so much about being an author and an illustrator that it’s totally worth it.
Yes, David is super engaging. He has a very active presentation with tons of fun and funny slides. He reads Bear Alert with slides and even photoshops the librarian into one of the pages for added hilarity. He discussed books he is working on and asks for student input. Then he shows them how he illustrates, getting them to pick colors and such as he uses a tablet to draw in Photoshop. Now Photoshop is pricey, but he recommends some apps and a website called sumopaint.com which is a free Photoshop analog budding digital artists can try. He also makes sure to draw something using basic shapes and colors do those budding artists have something they can try right away. He even showed an example of a student’s version and said the kids could send him their efforts.
It was a great day for all. I won’t be able to do it every year, but I’ll definitely keep an eye out for the change to try it out again.
One less expensive option is Skype visits. I did one with Barbara O’Connor last year and that was fun. But a real live, interactive author visit just can’t be beat.