Successful Author Visit

Today we were fortunate enough to host author/illustrator Lita Judge for a visit.  Lita is  from Peterborough, NH and she’s the author of Pennies for Elephants, one of this year’s Red Clover Award nominees. (Vermont’s kid-choice book award.)

She primarily writes non-fiction, and she spoke to our second and third graders about her path to becoming an artist and writer.  Her talk was fascinating!  We learned that she draws her inspiration from her childhood experiences growing up in a remote area of Alaska.  Her parents were wildlife photographers and her grandparents were scientists who studied birds, so she spent a lot of time in the woods, sketching in her journal, learning the ways of Nature and the methods of scientists.  She herself studied geology in college and  honed her artistic skills without formal art school, but with numerous trips to the best art museums of Europe to study great works.  Her appreciation for family and family stories was obvious, too.

Lita spoke positively to the students about following a dream or passion and about being true to their own stories, about practicing to improve whatever skill they might want to develop, and about the power of imagination.

Her books have won many kids choice awards in various states, and she’s garnered kudos from the International Reading Association.  If you’re from New England and you’re looking for an author I highly recommend Lita!

Skype-ing with Authors

Image: ‘What is Skype?
What is Skype?

This week I’ll be hosting a visiting author for half a day.  (More about that later this week.)  We’ve been gearing up by reading several of the author’s books, arranging for lodging and meals, negotiating schedules with classroom teachers, brainstorming with students some great questions to ask, getting out the publicity, ordering books to be autographed, etc.  As wonderful as these events can be, they can add a bit of stress!

This visit wouldn’t have been possible if I wasn’t sharing the cost with another school in the district.  Fortunately, with Skype and other web tools, it’s possible to communicate with authors in a whole new way.  Though I’ve not done this yet myself, I’m excited to think of it as an option for next year.  The cost is significantly reduced (if not free) allowing for more visits in a year and customizing the right author with the right grade level(s).  There are still arrangements to be made in terms of technology, but I can tap my I.T. guys for help with that.  Reading books and generating questions can still happen during regular library classes and it seems as if the scheduling piece might not be as much of an issue.  I’d like to think that for the most part it would be “business as usual” as opposed to a monumental “event.”

But,….I’ve not tried it yet.  What say you, readers who’ve conducted alternative author visits?  What advice do you have?  Pitfalls to avoid?  AND, which authors would you recommend for a K-3 school?  Please leave a comment with your advice!

Image from flickrCC: 27481259@N00/125252891