A newly published author recently asked me for advice on how to do a visit, which reminded me how nervous and unsure I was at the outset. So I have decided to post a few tips here for all to read.
What should you do?
The answer to that is: whatever you personally feel comfortable doing. We all do it differently. Don't be bullied into a session that doesn't sit right, or feel you have to do something in front of an entire school. My choices are determined by the age I'm working with. For 7 yrs and up, it could be a talk about my work with Q & A, an illustration workshop or a writing workshop. Obviously I pitch this differently, depending on the specific age of my audience, but the content is essentially the same. A talk might be a classroom chat with artwork and books, or a PowerPoint lecture to the whole school.
If the children are under 8, it's usually a story telling, which I make more lively with a song, a puppet or even a bit of dancing. For little ones, it's good to break the session up, with fun, interactive bits between reading. You can add colour by making or buying cheap props relevant to your story, like the dressing up bits above, that go with The Show at Rickety Barn.
As an illustrator, I always try to do some drawing on a flip chart too, which always goes down well (though there will only be a whiteboard unless you specify) and have recently started showing my sketchbook too - kids are especially fascinated if I've drawn someone on the train that very morning. I usually get the children to draw at some stage, and some authors do this too, to add variety and lighten things up.
For my next post, I will put together a list of my Top Ten Tips to help you with your author/illustrator visits. So, see you soon!