Smack Dab in the Classroom: The Gift of an Author Visit, by Dia Calhoun

At this holiday time of year, we’re all thinking of gifts. And the best way to connect middle grade books with kids is to bring an author SMACK DAB! into your classroom. What a gift that would be! Yes, I know what you’re thinking—no budget. But think fresh with the New Year. Brainstorm possibilities. Here are only a few.

· Fund raise for the author visit. Having a specific author in mind can inspire everyone at the school to get excited about the fundraising effort. For example: If we raise XX dollars, Gary Schmidt will visit our school! (Of course, you need to get a commitment on the fee from the author in advance.)

· Bring a LOCAL author in for a 30 minute assembly only, much less expensive than an all day author visit. No travel or hotel fees. And still very exciting for the kids.

· If you really have no budget, offer to do pre-sales of the local author’s books at your school in exchange for the assembly. Send home a book order form for the kids to fill out and return with payment. You would need to guarantee the author a minimum number of pre-sales, say 40-50, to make the visit worth their time. And give the author a stipend for gas.

· Do a SKYPE visit. Not quite as exciting as having the author live, but still exciting.

These are suggestions to get you started brainstorming. Bringing an author to your school is a tremendous gift to your students. I know. I remember an author coming to my 5th grade class. I remember feeling such a sense of awe and possibility . Here was someone who had written a book, one of the things I loved most in the world.

I ended up being an author. Who knows where a live author visit in your classroom might lead your students?

Happy Brainstorming. And Happy New Year.

Smack Dab in the Classroom by Dia Calhoun runs on this blog on the 23rd day of every month.


  1. I love these suggestions--especially regarding the order form! Happy holidays, Dia.

  2. I'm on the school library advisory committee, and we struggle with getting funds allocated for author visits -- I really love the school fundraiser idea; it can build enthusiasm in the whole building while it raises money! Sometimes the local public library will partner with a school to bring in a local author, so that's an option as well.

  3. Great ideas. A few more: access professional development funds by having the author do a teacher in-service session after school or use grant funding by having the author conduct a parent session.


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