Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Out-and-About: It's Off to (Gombert) School I Go!

I’m out-and-about today, visiting the Gombert Elementary School in Aurora, IL, sharing
my love of writing, reading and All Things Children’s Book with this Indian Prairie School District’s third, fourth and fifth graders.

BUT…before I tell you one thing more, be sure to check out our Blogiversaryx 3 to learn how YOU could be one of 3 (count ‘em, 3!) $30 Biblio Gift Certificates.

Today’s school visit has been in the works since early Fall, when Gayl Dasher Smith, Gombert’s Library Media Center’s Director, first contacted me.
She had the opportunity to apply for one of the district’s Artist-in-Residence grants and wanted to make sure I could meet her expectations.

I share the experience with our readers, (many of whom I know are teachers, librarians, booksellers and community directors but also children’s book creators and/or involved parents), because Gayl did everything absolutely right in initiating, organizing and orchestrating my Author Visit.

Our initial emails became phone conversations:

Would I consider talking with some grades while overseeing hands-on project-specific classroom writing workshops with others?
Was I open to teacher in-put?
Could I meet with students perhaps over lunch?
What were my fees?
What was my availability?
What bookseller (if any) would provide books for purchase?
Would I sign purchased books?
Could I make my out-of-print books available and forward them pronto?

Once Gayl received word of the grant’s approval, she and I both worked out a doable day’s schedule.
Teachers met and shared their preferred focuses.
Students read my books and visited my website!
They brainstormed questions they wanted me to answer.
We verified the train schedule, okayed the audio-visual equipment, discussed the space in which I’d be presenting.
Finally last week Gayl answered my few remaining questions.

In other words, readers: Gayl MAXIMIZED her district’s Artist-in-Residence grant – and me! - to the hilt.

I’ll report back Friday, sharing photos – and - a few fourth graders’ original poems.

Perhaps you’re looking for a children’s book creator to visit your school?
Check out SCBWI’s Speakers Directory.

Your local SCBWI Chapter might also offer a Speakers Directory. Here’s Illinois’.

SCBWI offers the AmberBrown Grant, in memory of the beloved Paula Danziger, that funds a complete school visit by the author of the school’s choice – if possible! The grant is a gem. Often the students themselves complete the grant application, utilizing their persuasive writing skills.

Given Gayl Smith’s expertise in arranging my Author Visit, I’m thinkingshe read Toni Buzzeo’s and Jane Kurtz’s School Visit Bible, Terrific Connections with Authors, Illustrators and Storytellers.

Alexis O’Neill offers all sorts of Golden School Visit Nuggets too at

Now, here’s hoping my 7:20 AM Metra train leaves Union Station on time today!

Esther Hershenhorn

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