Children's Authors In School Visits

This article from The Guardian on 18th October presents a view of the current trend for children's authors in school visits. While some of the article seems a little cynical (re: the view that children's authors are a marketing tool - This may be true, for who could represent a book better than it's author?), this would not be the main emphasis here. When a children's author goes into a school, they introduce and reinforce something that any teacher, who is by necessity adhering to a curriculum and a time schedule, finds it difficult at times to get across. Reading is fun.
"We're in the enviable position of being able to prove that reading and writing is fun: a teacher could battle for weeks to get a child to read something, only for an author to come in one morning and talk about giant robots, (and if they were Neill Cameron, draw them), and suddenly books are fabulous."
These wonderful people go into schools and libraries and bookshops and bring their books to life for us all. As they engage with their audience, they bring an enthusiasm to reading that teaching can't possibly get across. And the children then bring that back into the classroom with them.... and they take it forward into their lives.
Like Alex Milway (the author of this article and author of 'The Mousehunter' and 'The Mythical 9th Division'), we rarely had interesting visitors in the classroom. Authors seemed to be residents of a land far, far away... or they were dead. But now, authors spend a lot of their time in the schools, engaging with young people and inspiring a new generation of readers and writers. As I prepare to go past the Christmas crazy season in the bookshop into the schedule of World Book Day events (the first week of March), I'm extremely grateful and endlessly excited about these wonderful people (I wonder who will be there this year?) who come and share their gift with the (massive numbers of) school children who attend every year. What a great gift!!!


  1. I'm not going to pretend there's nothing in a school visit for me (it is a way of earning money for authors) but the idea that it works a a marketing tool to up sales is rather deluded! As an author of books mainly aimed at the very young I am aware that most children will not even remember my name, let alone go home and insist their parents buy my books. I can only hope that they enjoy hearing me speak about my work and learn something (without actually being aware of doing so), and that at least some of them may pick up a book afterwards (or a pen or a paintbrush). I certainly don't imagine my sales are going to spike - even if every single child in a classroon went out and bought a book it would amount to about 10 euros in royalties! Teachers (by necessity) are there to teach kids to read and write; a visiting author is coming at things from a different direction, and, hopefully, will open a window from the hard work of learning to read to the joyful world of the book as story.

  2. And I shall now climb down offa me high horse and drink me Irish coffee...

  3. Well said, Marie-Louise! That part of the article bothered me, but, as I said, who better to represent the books than their authors. But I do think you guys are brilliant and do so much to help kids learn that reading is actually a brilliant thing to do.
    Hope the Irish Coffee was wonderful. Could use one myself. xx


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