On the first day of the Children's Book Festival in Ireland, I though I'd post this list - dos and don'ts for school and library visits: 1/ Do have a glass or bottle of water ready for the author.
2/ Do make sure they get fed at the relevant times – lunch is always good!
3/ If they are staying over, put them up in the hotel/guesthouse that you would choose to stay in – warm, quiet and clean. Remember some of your authors may need to write in the evenings – so do take this into consideration – a tiny room without a desk is a no no.
4/ Please don’t expect them to drive 50 or 60 miles between events – remember many authors are city slickers and more used to trains and buses.
5/ Think about the logistics and what’s best for the author – it might be a better use of their time to base them in the main library rather than slepping them all over the county.
6/ Send them directions to your school or library that are easy to follow and accurate – they do not need to go on a wild goose chase just before their event.
7/ Make sure the person at the desk/in reception knows an author is coming and greets them with a smile. Not a ‘Who? Sorry, don’t know anything about that. Wait here until I get someone.’ (More common than you might think.)
8/ Make an effort with posters – these can be ordered from the author’s publisher in advance – or at the very least type welcome and the author’s name on a sheet of paper and stick it to the front door. Make the author feel wanted – authors are sensitive souls, be kind.
9/ A follow up email/letter to say thanks for visiting is always nice.
10/ Do try to have the author’s books in stock – they will look for them on the shelves!
11/ If the author asks for 5th and 6th class girls, don’t give them 1st class boys – there is a reason for their request. And make sure the school understands this and doesn’t turn up with every child from JI to 6th class. It is a huge advantage – to both the writer and the children – if the children have read the author’s books in advance. At the very least they should know a/ who the author is and b/what books they write.
12/ Where possible, give the writer a large audience. Writers like talking to lots of children. Unless it’s a workshop – one class max for workshops. When in doubt, ask the writer – how many children do you like at your sessions?
Some of the brilliant things libraries and schools have done for me recently:
Made lovely welcome posters.
One school had a group of children who had read my books welcome me at reception and take me to the school hall where I was speaking. Usually it’s a teacher – so this was a nice touch.
In one school in Athy the mothers and teachers made cakes and came to welcome me, along with their children. This also happened in Griffeen Valley Educate Together School where the teachers and parents are very keen on reading.
Alexandra School library provided six copies of Amy Green, Teen Agony Queen for the girls to win on the day of the visit. Afterwards the students gave me a book token and a box of chocolates. Plus a follow up thank you card. Gold star to Alexandra School!