This month is Read Across America month and last Wednesday, March 4th was World Read Aloud Day. I was lucky enought to take part in both of these awesome events this year. It's my first time participating and I am having a blast! I have spoken with over 20 classes across the U.S. and even in New Zealand, Ecuador, and China. So much fun meeting new readers all over the globe.
So how did I get started doing this? LitWorld, the sponsor of World Read Aloud Day put out a call for published authors to participate in their event. Once I sent them an email, they put me in touch with Skype in the Classroom, the program sponsored by Microsoft, that puts you in touch with the teachers. Skype in the Classroom creates your author page and then teachers send you requests to Skype with their class.
When you receive the request, you respond and then set up a time to do a short Skype visit with the class. These Skype visits are FREE and are typically no more than 15-20 minutes.
Wait. Did you say FREE?
Yes. All Skype visits that are arranged through Skype in the Classroom are free.
Then why do them?
There's lots of reasons:
1. You get to connect with some pretty cool students all over the world who LOVE to read and talk to authors!
2. Most of these teachers will purchase a copy (or more) of your book(s) to share with the class. I spoke to several classes who held up 5 or more of my books.
3. You get your name out there and you may even get local publicity
4. The BEST part is YOU GET TO TALK TO THE STUDENTS! (Did I say that already?)
They are so very excited to meet with a real author and be able to ask questions. And they asked a lot of great questions!!
And they also blog about you, like the school in New Zealand did here: http://eblog.stac.school.nz/2015/03/05/making-global-connections-on-world-read-aloud-day/
And send you cool thank you notes like this one:
So what do you talk about in a Skype visit?
For my 15-20 minute World Read Aloud talk, I introduced myself, read a few short blurbs from my book Univited Guests and Tsunamis and talked about how science and writing work together. Then, of course I left time for Questions and Answers.
Skype in the Classroom runs for the whole month of March, and World Read Aloud Day is only one day, what if you want to do Skype visits at other times?
Check out Skype an Author Network.
You have to apply to be accepted. Once you are accepted, you may offer two different types of visits:
Here is where you can charge for your visits if you'd like.
Meet the Author Visits
These can range from a short intro of what you do and Q & A sessions, to reading a short blurb about your book, to simply discussing a pre-arranged topic with the teacher. Keep these short.
These can range from 30 minutes to an hour.
I recommend taking a look at the authors already in the Skype an Author program to see what they offer for these type of visits.
Topics could include:
Books they have written.
The writing process and how it works for them
A full-blown school visit that you might give in person (including slides)
The fees for these range from $75 to $150 or more. Make sure to include enough information to make the conversation worthwhile for your audience.
Put a section on your website where teachers can contact you to set up Skype visits, too!
Some Tips for Making Skype Visits Fun:
Be excited and animated about your topic.
Try to involve the students and ask them questions.
Pick a lively part of your book to read. (Mine was filled with Ewwwww facts)
Ask the teacher to prepare the students before the visit by having them talk about you and look over your
Request that they read one of your books before your visit
Keep the session moving. If it begins to lag, ask questions.
Be aware of the time. The teachers have usually allotted you a certain amount. Don't go over (or under)
Leave a time for Q & A -- the students LOVE to ask questions.
Finally, make sure you look good - check your teeth, comb your hair, etc.-- your face will be larger than life on the screen in front of them. So you don't want a piece of your breakfast stuck in your front teeth. :)
Most of all HAVE FUN WITH THEM!! Skype Visits are a FANTASTIC way to connect with readers all over the world and get them excited about reading, writing, and in my case, learning about science!!
Jennifer is the award-winning author of over 20 nonfiction and fiction books for kids. A self-professed science geek, she is always on the hunt to learn something new. How do submarines stay submerged? How do satellites work? Why do bedbugs live in beds? She has learned it all in the many nonfiction books she has authored. Like any good scientist and author, Jennifer is rarely without a notebook and she writes down her observations throughout the day. It is a practice she encourages many young readers and writers. You can visit Jennifer at her website www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com, her special place to explore the world around her. - See more at: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/blogateers#sthash.mepoCssc.dpuf
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