What’s the point of author visits?

Now that I’m in recovery mode, and have had a chance to refine my event planner checklist, I’ve been thinking about the benefit of these author visits – how would I justify them to the powers that be if my budget came under fierce scrutiny?

I have hosted three author visits this year, two of them purely serendipitous. The visit last term by Jeannette Rowe gave our prep boys a chance to hear about how books are made, to see someone drawing pictures in the familiar style of known books, to understand some of the motivation behind writing books, and to enjoy well-known stories in a new way.
The book tour visit by Andy Griffiths gave students new insight into how funny books can be, how such outrageous ideas are developed, and how text and pictures interact. The drama performance of a short excerpt from the latest book also demonstrated how readers can interact with a text to bring it to life in a new form.
And this week’s event brought together sport and reading – a great AFL player up there on stage talking about how his old school friend asked him to help write a book, and now there are seven in the series with number eight planned for next year. Although many audience questions concentrated on Gary’s sporting career, there were quite a few about the series, how long it takes to write the books, things like that.

What are the students getting out of these events? For me it means a lot of organising – crossing ‘i’s and dotting ‘t’s – such as coordinating changes to timetables, supervision, ordering more copies of the books…

But for my students – the ongoing interest in the books, the discussions about the event and what they enjoyed, the connections they make between books on the shelf and the creative efforts of the person who put the story onto the page – those are very powerful things.

That’s the point.

Thank Goodness That’s Over!!

I have been a little preoccupied this week, because today we were hosting another book launch-ish event, and anything that wasn’t arranged before I went to Perth had to be organised in a searing hurry – audio, permission notes, MCs, book orders, etc etc… Add to all that some fairly busy teaching days, staff meetings, Web 2.0 courses and normal home commitments, and you get a TL with not a lot of spare brain room for idle bloggery.
However, I am pleased to say that our event today went off without any particular hitches – thanks to the enormous help of various staff members and the students in their classes, we had chairs, audio, and MCs, adoring fans had their books signed, more adoring fans had their photos taken with the authors, and I earned some serious brownie points for being the organiser. The students had a great time, the authors were really wonderful speakers, various books and posters were given away as trivia quiz prizes, the school got one of those really really big posters with a nice thank you signed on it – and we only disrupted two lessons and recess. I’d say that’s pretty spectacular, wouldn’t you?