I can still vividly remember the day the Lynne Cherry, the author/illustrator of The Great Kapok Tree came to visit my elementary school. It has always been my dream to bring an author/illustrator to my school for my students to meet, so when I finally had the chance to host Judy Schachner thanks to a partnership with our amazing local & independent bookstore Parnassus Books, I knew I needed to make the event meaningful and unforgettable. Unfortunately, due to the winter weather Judy’s flight was cancelled and we ended up having a snow day – however we were able to host Bruce Hale a few weeks later. Even though we weren’t able to have Judy visit, I still want to share some of the things I did leading up to the scheduled visit.
1. Build excitement!!
Don’t assume that just because YOU are excited, everyone else will
be, too. You must build the excitement. To do this, I enlisted the help
of a witty teacher to write five clues about Judy Schachner, one to be
read on the morning announcements each morning for a week. Each day,
every class had the opportunity to submit one guess as to who the
special visitor was. The first three classes to guess correctly won an
autographed copy of one of her books. This not only built excitement in
the students but it also got the teachers talking & excited, too.
Even our cafeteria staff wanted to know who the author was!
2. Create contests
I ran two contests. One was a bookmark decorating contest. I gave the
students blank bookmarks (just cut paper into a rectangle) & had
them decorate it with the theme of Judy Shachner’s books. The art
teacher helped judge the bookmarks and the winner received an
autographed copy of one of her books and I also made color copies of the
bookmark and gave them out to students as they visited our library. The
second contest connected to Common Core writing and research standards:
I gave students the opportunity to write a short biography and
introduction of Judy Schachner. The author of the winning introduction
was going to read his introduction in front of the school before Judy
came out on stage. He was also going to get an autographed copy of one
of her books.
3. Promote the books
Of course our library has every copy of SkippyJon Jones but I wanted
everyone to be reading her books like crazy! So I requested every single
one of her books from our public library. I made these available for
teachers to borrow and read to their class. This helped free up our
copies of books for the students. Teachers simply used a sign out sheet
to borrow the books so I made sure none were lost.
4. Publicize the event
If I weren’t a school librarian I could probably work in PR. I love
sharing the love of the library with everyone I meet and that includes
making sure school officials and the local community understand the
value in our school libraries. I made sure to invite our Director of
Schools, Director of Communications, my bosses and other VIP’s in our
district. Hey, if they don’t know what we’re doing – how can we expect
them to value us?
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