Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Adding Value to School Visits with Workshops: in the Spring 2016 SCBWI Bulletin

Thanks to Alexis O'Neill for including me in her article in the Spring 2016 SCBWI Bulletin in the article in her column The Truth About School Visits: Adding Value with Workshops. My cut paper animal workshop is one of eight terrific workshops described by authors Dandi Daley Mackall, Joan Bransfield Graham, Barney Saltzberg, Mary Ann Fraser, Joanne Rocklin, April Halprin Wayland, and Alexis O'Neill that can be done as a supplementary activity when doing author visits at schools.
This is a great resource for authors, illustrators, teachers and librarians!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Lasting Value of Author Visits

Author Visit at Taft School, Anaheim, CA 1996
I do many author visits in schools every year. I often wonder what the impact of my visit is on my audience. Recently, I received the following letter from a librarian, Elizabeth Fisher whose school I visited more than twenty years ago. The subject line of her email was: You impacted our lives and helped instill the love of reading in my students! I was delighted to find out that even today, students and teachers remember my visit. Elizabeth has graciously agreed to let me share her letter. I hope it will inspire many more author visits at more schools. Meeting a "real live" author is one of the best ways to promote reading and writing and get kids excited about books.

Hello Ms. Arnold,

The year was 1994. I was a first year teacher teaching a combo 5th and 6th grade class at Riverdale Elementary School in Anaheim, Ca. The school was in Orange Unified School District. Riverdale Elementary School has since closed.

Our Librarian had selected you and then enticed you to come to Riverdale Elementary School to be our Author of the Day. Our entire school was excited to be getting you as our guest. 

My students and I researched you. We read every bio we could find about you- normally on the book jackets of your books. We made large posters announcing you would be coming to Riverdale Elementary School. Students made individual posters to place in every classroom. The posters had your picture on it, the books you had written and the date you were coming to our school. Students painted signs welcoming you. They were placed on Riverdale Street for the community to see and they were posted all over our campus. We were excited. YOU were coming to our school!

I purchased every book you had written and my 5th and 6th grade students practiced reading your books. I taught the students how to teach the other classes all about Caroline Arnold the famous author. They learned how read a book to an audience, how to hold the book while reading to students, to share the pictures in the book and to emphasize the words that went with the pictures. Classes (100% of them!) signed up to have my students come to their class to present about you, our visiting author, and to read one of your books to the class. Riverdale Elementary School was pumped! Their favorite author was coming to the school and the students couldn't wait!

Your visit was a HUGE success! We LOVED, LOVED, LOVED you!

Over the years I have ran into teachers and students from Riverdale. Many of them have shared with me the memory of the day of your visit. They remember preparing for your visit and then getting to sit close to you as you read your own book to us.

Such a thrill it was to have your visit back in 1994 and to see it still has impact on their lives today. Oh, the power of a well written book is there, but even more so, the power of an author who takes the time to visit schools! You are amazing!

Elizabeth Fisher
Library Media Specialist

Canyon High School 
Anaheim, CA

Note: I dug in my boxes and found a photo that was published in the LA Times Orange County edition of my author visit to a school in the Orange USD. I thought it was from my visit to Riverdale but, as it turns out, it was taken two years later, in 1996, when I visited Taft School and the Times sent a reporter and photographer to do an article about the author festival. Even though it isn't from my visit to Riverdale, it shows the excitement of kids meeting a real live author at a neighboring school.

Why Author Visits Matter: A Teacher-Librarian's Love Letter. My friend and fellow author Alexis O'Neill contacted Elizabeth and got permission to post her letter on her website School Visit Thanks, Alexis, for spreading the word about the value and importance of author visits!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Humboldt County Author's Festival 2015 Video Now on View

Last fall I was one of 25 authors who participated in the Humboldt County Children's Author Festival in Eureka, California, a wonderful four days of author visits to schools, an art exhibit, social events in the community, and a book signing at the library. This year a videographer made an eleven minute video highlighting the festival and the many ways that the author festival benefits the community. You can watch the video at .

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Creating Eye-Catching Nonfiction for the Very Young: Workshop at Summer 2016 SCBWI Conference

Registration has just opened for the Summer 2016 SCBWI Conference, July 29-August 1 at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The schedule is jam packed with amazing keynotes, workshops and more. I will be doing a workshop called Creating Eye-Catching Nonfiction for the Very Young in the nonfiction track. My session is on Sunday morning, July 31 at 11:15 am.
Hope to see you there!

The SCBWI conference is a rare opportunity to meet and network with the most influential group of the key decision makers in children’s publishing.
A brilliant array of children’s book authors and illustrators will inspire you with their knowledge and vision, and help you bring your craft to a new level.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Kern Reading Association YOUNG AUTHORS DAY in Bakersfield, CA

Autographing books at the KRA Young Authors Day
Last Saturday I was one of four authors invited to speak to Kern County students in celebration of Young Author Day sponsored by the Kern County Reading Association. The event was held at the Larry S. Reider education building in downtown Bakersfield. The weekend began on Friday night with a delicious potluck dinner at Teresa's Twisselman’s home (KRA has wonderful cooks!) It was also a wonderful opportunity to chat with KRA members and the other authors, Joan Bransfield Graham, Jeff Stone, and Jane Tenorio-Coscarelli.  On Saturday morning we each had two sessions to speak with the children and two autographing sessions. Books were provided by Russo's book store in Bakersfield. All went very well and I had enthusiastic groups of students.

The day was also an opportunity for children who had written their own books to have them displayed. Young authors got to wear a special blue ribbon. I loved looking at the books that the students had made--perhaps some of them will be our future authors!

Many of the students who came were from the Bakersfield City School district's Migrant Education program and had come on buses from their schools.

I thank Sandra Yoon for coordinating my visit and for the lovely welcome basket waiting for me in my hotel room. I also thank Nancy Cox for being my driver and everyone in KRA who contributed to making Young Authors Day a success.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Paper Plate Zebra Mask
On one of my recent school author visits, the room where I was presenting was decorated with charming zebra masks made from paper plates. The project had been inspired by my book A Zebra’s World. I could see that the children had looked carefully at my illustrations to make the zebra’s  markings. They used black construction paper for the nose and mouth and the mane. Stripes on the face were added with black marker. Ears were cut from tan paper and glued to the back of the plate. Googly eyes were added for the final effect. Every zebra was different, just as they are in the wild. This is a fun project to do with younger elementary school students.

A Zebra's World, based on the 2006 book with the same title but now with a shorter text and sturdier pages, brings the story of a zebra's first year to younger readers. Follow the black and white stripes of the young zebra as she grows up in Africa. A readable and lively text provides a close-up look at these black and white animals in this "anything but black and white" book. Cut paper illustrations help tell the tales of these amazing animals and the world in which they live.This picture book follows a baby zebra from birth on the grasslands of Africa through the first year of its life. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

AUTHOR VISIT at the WPC Preschool, Los Angeles, CA

This morning I made my annual visit to the Westwood Presbyterian Preschool and had two lively sessions–the first with the three-year-olds, and the second with the four-year-old group. With the younger children we read Noisytime for Zoo Animals--complete with making the animal sounds, counted eggs and chicks in Who Has More? And Who Has Fewer?, sang the Wiggle and Waggle song, and went on a lion hunt after reading A Zebra’s World. With the older group, I shared my new book Living Fossils and showed them my nautilus shell and 50 million year old fish fossil. We then talked about birds and measured the students’ wingspans. We also discussed nocturnal and diurnal animals in my Day and Night books. The children will soon be making their own books. I shared with them how I make cut paper art for the illustrations in my books. As always, I finished by reading The Terrible Hodag and the Animal Catchers, a perennial favorite. I thank all the teachers, Heidi Rudd in the office, and director Sophie Robertson for helping to make this another successful visit!