Thursday, 24 October 2013

Society of Authors survey on the impact of author visits

A press release by the Society of Authors reveals the huge benefit of author visits on pupils, libraries, and schools.

Our children's laureate, the fabulous Malorie Blackman, agrees. ‘With over two decades of first hand experience regarding school visits, I have seen and learnt for myself just how much of a difference author and illustrator visits can truly make. Such visits inspire not just reading and writing, but also fire a child’s imagination and lead to previously reluctant readers actively seeking out stories.’ 

And so does a former laureate, Jacqueline Wilson. ‘I’ve been to literally thousands of schools during my long writing career and I can honestly say that each and every visit was a joyous experience - definitely for me and hopefully for most of the children too! I’ve been to struggling schools where few of the children are keen readers, yet at the end of each session the students have been happily buying or borrowing books, totally enthused. I think author visits to schools are a fail-safe way of engaging with young readers and encouraging kids who aren’t keen on reading to give books another go. Nearly all major children’s authors have trekked round schools and talked about their books, making children laugh, squeal, sigh and clap spontaneously, understanding at last that reading can be hugely enjoyable.’

So did survey respondents: ‘There is no doubt that author visits can encourage children to read for pleasure. The impact of one-off visits may not be sustained though. It will also need teachers to carry this work on. I believe that author residencies are the ideal for sustained impact. The work is vital.’ 

99.4% of respondents, who covered secondary and primary schools throughout the UK, believed that author visits were an "invaluable enrichment that encouraged reading for pleasure, wider reading and creative writing."
Worth organising, worth supporting, worth paying for.

Any school wanting advice about organising an event? Ask away! 

The picture above was from an event I did at a school in Edinburgh for Deathwatch, part of the Deathwatch Dash, where I set a world record for the most number of schools visited by one author for a one hour event (each) in one day. *falls over with exhaustion at the mere memory*

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