The Children's Writers and Illustrators Group Presentation on Author Visits
For schools and libraries wondering whether
to organise an author or illustrator visit
WE GO TO GREAT LENGTHS
in fetching headgear
OUR SURVEY OF SCHOOLS
In 2013, the Society of Authors carried out a
survey of schools to assess the value of author visits.
• 154 schools responded: 94 secondaries and 60 primaries
• Reporting 1,471 author visits
This is what they told us…
AUTHOR VISITS WORK!
• 99.4% considered author visits to be “high priority and
valuable in encouraging reading for pleasure and/or creative
• Many used the word “vital”
• 99.5% believed that every type of pupil/school would benefit
Nicola Morgan cuts off legs
RESPONDENTS’ OWN WORDS
“Encourage reading for pleasure”
“Increased library use”
“Increased reading diversity”
“Built confidence – especially in reluctant readers”
“Broadening knowledge of literature”
“Develop ownership of books”
WE RISK HUGE DANGER FOR READERS
Daniel Blythe pleads
with a Cyberman
VISITS BOOST READING FOR
“There is no doubt that author visits can encourage
reading for pleasure.”
“[Meeting an author] engages the pupils in a ‘hands-on’
experience that can enhance their love of books…”
“The opportunity for pupils to meet and converse with an
author plays a crucial part in the promotion of reading”
READING IS OBVIOUSLY
Miriam Moss and
“Pupils become enthused not only for reading and writing, but
with one author/illustrator, enthused about illustrating.
Following her visit the teachers developed the book’s themes
and with success embedded it into the yearly planning.”
“Nothing inspires, engages and heartens kids more than
meeting a ‘proper’ author.”
Year 9 boy after an author visit
“I didn’t know
IMPROVE LIBRARY USE…
“Visits have sent [library] borrowing
through the roof.”
“There are often ‘new faces’ seen in the library
after an author event…”
…AND BENEFIT RELUCTANT AND
Many respondents spoke of “a notable growth in confidence” of SEN
“Reluctant readers start visiting the library and many start on a
journey which they did not know existed
and which lasts a lifetime.”
“Sometimes an understanding of the inspiration behind a story will
motivate a previously reluctant reader to pick up a book.”
…AND THEY ARE FUN!
MORE THAN JUST A VISIT
Schools used many ways of enabling author contact:
• Patron of reading / reading champions
• Collaborating with literary festivals
• Collaborating with regional book awards
• Residencies and extended relationships
• Skype sessions
DOES OFSTED NOTICE?
Only 11% said that Ofsted took notice of author visits, but
when they do they respond very positively. Of the 11%, most
had been inspected recently, suggesting that Ofsted are
taking more notice.
The Society of Authors is pressing Ofsted on this;
inspectors’ guidelines from Sept 2012 have increased focus
on “schools as reading environments”.
POSITIVE REACTIONS FROM OFSTED
• Don Valley Academy used as best practice case study by Ofsted
and in Moving English Forward. Librarian said author visits a
• Private school citation in Good Schools Guide 2012 praised
regular schedule of events.
“…The inspectors were highly impressed”
• Lesson including author visit recorded as “outstanding”.
WHAT ABOUT FUNDING?
Authors are paid for work with schools; they are self-employed
and most earn little from writing. But schools have tight budgets.
A day may cost at least £500 including expenses.
“They are expensive but if the author costs £400 and 400 children
have the opportunity to listen […] that’s only £1 a head”
SO, HOW DID SCHOOLS FUND EVENTS?
• Lateral thinking – overlap with history, PSHE, SEN or gifted and
• Create a book week/festival – may attract extra funding
• Charge parents a small amount?
• Combine with nearby schools
• Collaborate with bookshops
• Use pupil premium
• Make contacts with publishers – they may pay expenses if a new book
One way to generate funds for events is to be creative with book-
selling. This benefits everyone: pupils, schools, authors.
Some authors reduce fees if book-selling is well promoted. If
authors’ books don’t sell, it might affect future publishing deals, so
they’ll try to help.
HOW TO ORGANISE AN EVENT
• Plan 6-12 months ahead – experienced authors get booked
• Talk to colleagues who have done this before
• Think carefully about what type of event you want
• And what type of author/illustrator – read their websites
• Invite the author; discuss fee and content
• Plan details carefully; enthuse staff and pupils
• Keep in close contact with the author
• Enjoy the day!
• Encourage follow-up activities with pupils
Caroline Lawrence in action
YES, AUTHOR VISITS WORK!
“…positive impact on all areas of literacy: reading, writing, speaking
“The children were enthralled with the visits and I find it tragic that
schools cannot afford to promote reading in this way.”
USEFUL SOURCES OF INFORMATION
For further information about how to contact authors, listings, resources,
rates and advice on how to run a successful visit, download these FREE
guides from the SoA website:
• SoA Guidelines for Schools Organising an Author Visit
• SoA Guide to Author Fees for Talks in Schools
• SoA Report on Author Visits in Primary and Secondary Schools