School/Library Visits for Children’s Authors

Published January 26, 2016 by helenlaycock

Those of you who found my article helpful on Marketing Tips for Children’s Authors may also find Part Two useful, where I talk about organising your talk at schools or libraries. You can read it on Dan’s blog


One writer told me that she was worried about not having enough material to fill the session, so here’s the advice I gave to her:

You can structure the session in any way you please, or, if you’re unsure how to go about it, you can ask the teacher if there’s an aspect of writing which she would like you to address with the children – and then relate it to your book/s.

It’s always nice to chat a bit with the children when you first meet them (about yourself, how you started writing, what sorts of books you have written, what you like reading, etc.) and they will always have lots of questions (which you should encourage them to keep until the end), so that’s the beginning and the end of the session sorted!

The middle bit is the fun/creative bit, and it can always extend into an interactive session if you want it to:

  • You might just like to spend the majority of the session reading an exciting part of your book and finish by asking what they think might happen next – and this could continue into a writing exercise which the teacher could lead once you’ve gone; of course, you could participate, too.
  • You might decide to talk about characters, how you came up with them/goodies and baddies/ traits, etc and pick extracts to share which demonstrate how you have differentiated between them. The children could create their own (verbally, or as a written exercise), or draw yours, or write a fictional conversation.
  • You might have a theme which runs through all your books and you can pick excerpts to illustrate this.
  • Whatever you speak about, the children will be learning from you, so don’t be afraid to talk about why certain writing techniques are more successful than others.
  • If you feel you have used up all your material, have an activity to direct them to which links in with what you have been talking about. It could be a worksheet, but it could just as easily be a verbal instruction, for example,

‘Can you come up with three very different beginnings without using the phrase Once upon a time?’

  • Poems are also a good way of filling a few extra minutes… but, in all honesty, I think they will still be firing questions at you, even as you are walking out of the door with your coat over your arm!

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