Author visits can have a profound influence on students – particularly struggling or reluctant readers – by creating connections with the written word in engaging, personal ways. Meeting a real author can help fire up students’ creativity and generate enthusiasm for reading and writing that will positively impact their entire educational careers.
Many schools are dealing with limited budgets, but there are lots of ways to acquire funds for this experience. The best way to take advantage of all the funding options is to plan ahead. If you schedule your visit a year in advance (or even six months), you will have time to explore multiple fundraising options and determine which is right for you.
Apply for grants
- SCBWI’s Amber Brown Grant
- Grant Wrangler
- The McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation’s Academic Enrichment Grants
- Title I Grants (if your school is eligible for Title I funding)
- National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (look up your state)
- Try searching online with terms such as “author visit” and your state for philanthropic or community organizations who offer grants
Consider working with authors who live near your school. Travel costs are a significant part of the expense, but if you work with writers who live nearby, these costs will be considerably less. The best place to start is by asking colleagues who have previously had school visits. You can also search authors by state through the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Speakers Bureau.
Collaborate. Many writers (myself included) will offer a reduced rate if they can visit more than one school in a district or a city. This also lets the schools share the author’s travel expenses.
Leverage your existing resources. Maybe a parent works for a hotel and can arrange a free or discounted room. Maybe someone has a large number of airline miles he or she would donate. Maybe someone can volunteer to drive the author around to save a rental car expense. Make a list, and ask parents and teachers in what ways they feel comfortable helping.
Ask for community support. Many businesses and local organizations have money set aside for arts funding or school enrichment projects. Some organizations to approach include Rotary, Kiwanis, Elks, Eagles, and Lions. If you live in or near a big city, large foundations may have funds available.
Treat the author visit like a field trip. Depending on the number of students, collecting a few dollars from each can cover a significant portion of the expenses.
Sell books as a fundraiser. Many publishers (mine included) allow groups to purchase books at a significant discount, usually 40%. If a PTA sells the books at the cover price, it can use the difference to help pay for the visit. Bonus: a signed book is an inspirational souvenir for an excited student.
- Silent auction
- Jumble and/or Bake Sale
Author visits are an investment in your students. Kids walk away with a different perspective on reading and writing, and often are inspired to pursue their own creative endeavors. Teachers see their own work supported and validated as authors reinforce the importance of revision, incorporating feedback, and perseverance. Win-win!