Everyone knows an author visit is a great way to get students fired up about reading and writing. But what if you don’t have the funds to pay an author to come to your school? Well, I’ve got great news! There’s an awesome new way to bring authors into your classroom—virtual author visits.
Virtual visits are super-easy (really!) and super-reasonable. Now admittedly I’m a bit of a techno-phobe. More importantly, though, I’m a children’s author who loves to talk to students about my favorite things—books. So I decided to push past my fears and give virtual visits a try. And I’m so glad I did! I’ve chatted with students all around the country, all from the comfort of my dining room (aka my office).
The amazing part is, these virtual visits are interactive and easy to set up. I was also pleasantly surprised to find these visits were almost exactly like my classroom visits, only better in some ways. Students get to meet my adorable dog, Corduroy, which isn’t possible with in-person visits. They also like to see where and how I work. During virtual visits I share a number of show-and-tells that I use during my regular school visits: a sloppy story I wrote in first grade, the various stages of book production, a letter I received from Beverly Cleary when I was in 4th grade, plus I read one of my books. Then I wrap up with a question and answer time where students ask all sorts of interesting questions!
If you’d like to give virtual author visits a try, you only need two things:
1. A computer equipped with a camera and speakers. (Most newer computers have these built in.)
2. Skype software. This is FREE and only takes a few minutes to download. You can get the Mac or Windows version (depending on your system) here: http://www.skype.com/intl/en/get-skype/other-downloads/
Once you’re ready to invite authors into your school, one of the best places to find authors who do virtual visits is the Skype an Author Network (http://skypeanauthor.wetpaint.com/). This website lists hundreds of authors and provides a page about each one where you can find out the author’s books and type of presentations.
Good luck, and have fun meeting new authors!
Suzanne Slade, Author of more than 80 Children’s Books
Enter to win a Free Skype Visit for your school! Suzanne Slade will be giving one school a free 20 minute virtual author visit on March 2nd for national Read-Across-America Day! Simply email “School Visit” to Ashlee Rowe by Febuary 14th to enter. Winners will be notified that same week.