Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Hosting an Author Visit and Storytelling Session

I am happy reading aloud my published picture books to kids at Perps.
As a published and an international award winning author, I have my share of wonderful experiences visiting schools for the conduct of talks and workshops about reading, writing and book making. Part of my program is a read aloud and storytelling session of one or two of my published picture books.

It is always a joy to see the faces of young children light up with wonder. They giggle, gasp and grasp a classmates hand during events in the story that are funny, exciting and surprising. Connection between storyteller and listener happens. It is magical!

In a recent author visit I had at the Grade School Department of the University of Perpetual Help System (Perps), I had magical moments with the K-3 students there. Their response to stories is amazing. They warmed up to Daddy Elephant, laughed at little brother every time Big Sister annoys him, and followed on the heroic journey of Mother Cat. It is my honor to share these stories with them, the ones I created and the ones that matter to me.

With the support of my publisher, Lampara Books, I get to experience, first hand, the wonder, fun and curiosity that rest in the heart and mind of a listening child. It inspires me to keep on writing. I thank the librarians of Perps for having me last November 30 for this visit. I am grateful to my learning commnity, The Beacon Academy, for allowing me to network and touch base with our neighbors in Binan.

Here now is a set of tips for school librarians who wish to have a smashing Author Visit.

1. First of all, an Author Visit must be planned early on. It is scheduled way ahead of time for logistics and budgetary concerns. It is therefore important that the librarian knows who to invite so that, the author's professional fees, transportation, meal allowance and needed equipment and materials are all in place. The program, venue of the visit and the audience, the objectives and the purpose of the visit need to be spelled out.

2. Most school systems require a proposal for this activity. Librarian managers need to allot a budget for this event. Including this event in the regular staff meeting is essential. It gets everyone involved. The Author Visit becomes a community event. The librarian in charge of the event works works with teachers and even parents in organizing the visit. Usually, the Author Visit is part of a bigger event for example, Teen Read Week, National Book Week, Poetry Month, International Literacy Day, National Children's Book Week, etc.

3. When the plan and proposal has been approved by the school administration, the librarian can begin the logistical preparations.

4. Send the author an invitation, either through his/her contact address or through the publisher.

5. Invite the publisher to display and sell the author's books and schedule in a book signing session. Authors get a lot from engaging with their readers. Your role, as a librarian, is to bridge the reader to the book and its author.

6. Promote the visit a week or two before the actual event. Prepare flyers, announce the event at assemblies, school websites and newsletters.

7. Work with teachers for curriculum tie-ins. Even guidance counselors may find the visit beneficial in helping young people find out what their interests in life are. This can pave the way to knowing one's vocation.

8. Have a post Author Visit activity. Writing the author letters is one of the many post activities you can do. Authors often reply, thus, the connection deepens and you, librarian, you now find yourself a part of the creative process.

9. Send the author a thank you via email or the traditional snail mail. You can invite him/her again, thus, the author becomes a resource person who will help you teach, educate and guide young people in their learning.

10. Evaluate the Author Visit. Start by looking at the objectives. Were they met? How? What areas need improvement? Write this all in a report and submit it to the Librarian manager. Documentation of activities helps you chart your growth, as well as the library's.

Author Visits can be fun! Tiring, yes. But kids and young people learn a lot from the experience. And yes, even the authors whom you invite over.

Zarah Gagatiga accepts library consultancy and professional development training sessions for teachers, aspiring writers and novice school librarians. 

Her author visit programs are fun, exciting and filled with learning activities. With Zarah Gagatiga, you have a BLAST: Blogger, Librarian, Author, Storyteller and Teacher. 

Get in touch with her! Her email address is: zarah.gagatiga@gmail.com

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