This week I visited three elementary schools. On Wednesday I was at Maclary Elementary in Newark, Delaware. Thursday was Bells Elementary in Blackwood, NJ and on Friday I visited Barclay Brook in Monroe Township, NJ. Today is Read-Across-America day and many schools do author visits around that, which also celebrates Dr. Seuss’ Birthday (March 2nd).
So here’s the thing, twice this week I was told that some of the teachers in the schools thought I had done the best author presentation they had ever seen. It’s a wonderful thing for an author to here. You want to be known for putting on a good show, interacting well with the students and making the day memorable. The problem is, how do you advertise this to other schools? I can’t just put the headline I used above on my marketing materials. Sure, I have asked for quotes from the schools I’ve been to but as an individual I’ve always had the problem of feeling like I’m bragging or pushing too hard when marketing myself.
Happily, two of the school librarians (and one of the principals) posted on twitter. Not every school does, and it’s fine if they don’t. It’s hard for me to decide what to post after a visit. Some schools do not allow photos of students. Some are ok if you can’t see faces. It’s easier for me if the school has posted photos themselves, then I know I can share them.
I’ve visited a number of schools in the district where Bells is and other schools nearby. Word of mouth between schools is a great way that schools have found out about me. A few times teachers who saw my presentations at their schools have referred me to the schools that their children attend.
The above tweet was wonderful. To have a librarian post such a heartfelt endorsement, well, you couldn’t pay enough for what that is worth. Thank you Nicole!
Some schools ask that I have lunch with some of the students, I always say yes if they request that. It is also nice to have some time to get to know your hosts. I had lunch with the librarian and principal on Friday and we had a lovely time chatting about all sorts of things.
Every book that a student purchases gets a picture drawn in it. Sometimes this means I spend a day or more ahead of time signing books and drawing pictures. I don’t mind at all, especially when I see the reaction it gets. The kids really love when they find out they have an original drawing.
That was this week’s journey. The coming week I have to drive to Long Island, NY, then back down to Wilmington, DE and then up to Franklin NJ. After that I have 6 more up to the beginning of April. I still have openings in my schedule for late April, May and June and of course I can book author visits in advance for next year.
One last picture. The 1st grade students at Bells came in carrying puffins on sticks. At the end of the assembly one of them came up and said he wanted to give me his puffin. I thanked him and tucked it into my shirt pocket. Suddenly every student near us wanted to give me their puffins. I now have quite a large flock of puffins.
P.S. I just looked it up and according to Puffinpalooza.com a group of puffins can be referred to as:
a burrow of puffins
a circus of puffins (as they are the clowns of the sea!)
a colony of puffins
an improbability of puffins
a loomery of puffins
a puffinry of puffins
As much as I like an improbability of puffins I think my favorite is a circus of puffins.