Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Lasting Value of Author Visits

Author Visit at Taft School, Anaheim, CA 1996
You impacted our lives and helped instill the love of reading in my students! That was the subject line of a recent email. 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, whose school I visited more than twenty years ago. I was delighted to find out that even today, students and teachers remember my visit. Elizabeth Fisher 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 Experts.com. Thanks, Alexis, for spreading the word about the value and importance of author visits!


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