THERE IS NO CHARGE TO BE LISTED on this blog, however I do ask for a reciprocal link to Cool School Visits, at www.coolschoolvisits.com . (Check it out! I offer lots of free advice about doing school visits!) Sorry, except for a few close friends, I can only list you in your home state.
MY DEFINITION OF "TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED"...If you're with a publisher you know I'll recognize, write to me and I'll add you. If you have any doubts, CLICK THIS LINK and scroll down to a list approved on SCBWI's "Published and Listed" (PAL) list. If you see your publisher on this list, write to me. If not, then you're with a publisher too obscure to be added. I don't want these author lists to become so lengthy that the site loses its original intent: to save educators time when "shopping" for an author.

Alex Flinn's dream author visit

Today, Florida author Alex Flinn shares an example of a dream author visit:

In the perfect author visit (and I've had some), groups would be anywhere from 30-125 students, all of whom have read at least one of my books. If possible, they would also have self-selected to be at the presentation. Presentations would be scheduled for neither the first nor last period of the day. All of the above makes for maximum audience participation. There would be some time set aside, either a writing workshop or author lunch, for the kids who are really into reading and/or writing.

My personal favorite school was in Upstate New York. I visited several years ago and met with groups groups of 75 students, each of whom had read several of my books. They also had a lunch for teachers and students to meet me, and it was at this lunch that I got the idea for one of my books, DIVA. I also spoke at an evening library presentation for "The Great New York Read-aloud." Three years later, I visited this same school, spoke with two more self-selected groups of 75 as well as a roundtable of girls who had been involved in domestic violence incidents.


I've had many good school visits and a few bad ones. The common thread for the good ones was that I felt that every student at the presentation wanted to be there. Usually, but not always, this meant that the students had self-selected to be there. The few exceptions to this were schools where there was a large remedial reading population who liked my books. The worst visit BY FAR was one where a well-intentioned public library district had me go to a school for two full days without ascertaining that the students had ever heard of or read my books. They hadn't. They would have spent their money better to have me go one day and spent the second day's money on the books. I've had visits set up by public libraries, which worked, but it was because they made sure the kids had read the books.

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Kim butting back in again:
I suppose that's one of the differences between presentations by picture book authors and YA authors. Since a YA is too long to read during the presentation, it really is imperative that students be familiar with the author's book/books before she arrives. Whereas, as a picture book author, I have appeared at many schools where the kids have not yet read my book. Heck, I started doing school visits even before my book came out. I figured, what I lacked in publication credits, I made up for in stage experience. (Yup, that's me, the "nun" on the left. How I'd love to wear that costume at a school visit some day!)

Also complicating the reading-in-advance issue is that younger students are fairly easily impressed. The really young ones greet a visiting puppet as a celebrity. So just being told that you're an author is enough to command respect from the grammar school set. Not true of older students, I'm guessing. If they've never heard of you OR your book, they're much more likely to tune you out.

Kim Norman

Toni's Perfect Day

Author Toni Buzzeo (Maine) steps in to share the first post in a new series I'm calling THE PERFECT AUTHOR VISIT. The first few posts in the series will describe perfect visits from the author's perspective. We'll hear from Dr. Fred Bortz, (Pennsylvania); Alex Flinn, (Florida); Rukhsana Kahn,(Canada); Marianne Mitchell, (Colorado); and Jane Yolen, (New York). Later, I hope to add similar posts from an educator's perspective. Here's Toni:


This visit happened in New York state in April. It was so wonderful, so much like the visits I used to have at my school when I was the host and when NCLB hadn't darkened the door of the educational landscape.

1. I was hired a year in advance (possibly more).
2. The librarian kept in touch with me during the intervening months, but not needlessly so, just with important questions.
3. She and the other librarians took me out to dinner and we had a fun and relaxing time BEFORE the day of her school, so I felt like I already knew her.
4. When I arrived, I had some time to get set up and make sure the technology was working (and plenty of people to help me with that).
5. The sessions were held in a very comfortable auditorium with excellent acoustics and a good wireless mic.
6. The faculty had a wonderful breakfast for me and the SUPERINTENDENT came and stayed.
7. I had some one-on-one time to chat with the SUPERINTENDENT after the breakfast.
8. Four fifth graders arrived to take me on a tour of the school to show me ALL OF THE STUDENT PROJECTS ABOUT MY BOOKS DISPLAYED ON BOTH FLOORS OF THE ENTIRE SCHOOL!!

Jacket Art ©2008 by Sachiko Yoshikawa
9. The superintendent stayed for my K session and then spoke to me afterwards.
10. The PRINCIPAL attended two of my sessions and joined us for a lunch of spinach salad the kitchen had made especially for us.
11. The PR DIRECTOR for the district came to hear the entire session for 1-2 grade.
12. EVERY fifth grader had done a research essay on ME!! They asked the most interesting and intelligent questions during Q&A.
13. The books for signing were well-organized and there were LOTS of them.
14. One of the third grade teachers made me Mrs. Skorupski glasses and my host librarian bought me a beautiful lighthouse charm.
15. Kids wrote me letters both before and after my visit.

What an amazing school and an amazing day in this era of "No Child Left Behind." When I told them how rare it was to find a school that felt it had this sort of time for author visit preparations, the principal and the librarian were astounded. They'd always done it this way and say they always will. A year long focus on literacy and learning via an indepth author study! Woooohoooo! Everything Jane Kurtz and I espoused in TERRIFIC CONNECTIONS!


And now moi, (Kim Norman), butting in to add:

So everybody, here is another component to a perfect author visit: Be sure you're following Toni Buzzeo or Jane Kurtz. LOL! (Because my Hampton, Virginia visit following Toni's visit last year went well, too.) Obviously, Jane & Toni are good leaders, encouraging a reading of their how-to book, TERRIFIC CONNECTIONS, before they come.

Coincidentally, at a school I visited a few weeks ago, Jane Kurtz had been there the year before. So at my "Follow-Jane-Kurtz" visit, the principal sat in on both presentations. That has never, ever happened before. Sometimes the principals don't even pop in to meet me. (Generally, I've found that visits go better when they do. That seems to indicate a higher level of involvement from the whole staff, although I understand that sometimes schedules don't allow time for the principal to get away from his/her obligations.)

Also at this school, the book sale & signing was very organized, and they had sold more books in advance than any school the whole year.

So, thanks to Toni and Jane, I had a near perfect visit, too!
If you'd like to see my author visit video, click HERE. It will give you an idea of my presentation style. I generally like to close my presentations for the younger students with "The Storytime Boogie," a song that encourages bedtime reading. Music video of "The Storytime Boogie" HERE.

Kim Norman