Award-Winning Author Barbara O’Connor on the Importance of Author Visits
What is your favorite thing about school visits?
I adore kids. School visits are a great way to get me out into the real world of kids.
Why do you think author/illustrator visits are important?
I think it’s important for kids to see that authors are just plain, old ordinary people – like they are! It tickles me when kids are surprised that I’m not arriving at their school in my chauffeur-driven limo. Hopefully, they then realize that they, too, can be authors if that’s what they love to do.
Author visits also introduce young readers to books they might not otherwise have connected with.
Schools often struggle with funding for visits and space constraints (with cafeteria’s being multi-use/auditorium spaces). They want every student included in the visit and are sometimes surprised if authors limit the number of presentations they offer in a day. If you limit the number of presentations you offer, why is it important for schools to follow your scheduling suggestions?
I put 200% into my school presentations. Limiting the number that I do in a day insures that I have the energy I need in order to give my best to every group that I see.
How have school visits changed in the last 10-years?
I’d say the biggest change has been technology. When I first started doing school visits a gazillion years ago, I had my book jackets mounted on foam board and set up on book stands. A bit later, I brought transparencies to use with an overhead projector! Now, of course, we have PowerPoint and Keynote. Projectors and smart boards are better and faster. And today’s kids are used to presentations being visual and fast, so authors need to jazz things up a bit more than they used to.
What is your favorite question a student has asked at an event?
I like it when students have thought about my body of work and not just one book. When they ask about elements common to all of my books (such as setting), that shows they’ve thought about the big picture of each book and how they all tie together in common ways.