I love visiting schools and getting children excited about books and reading for pleasure. My visits are full of fun, amazing stories, wordplay, interactive poems, cheeky jokes, insights into how authors work and ideas for writing.
If you’re a teacher who’d like to see children inspired to read and write then get in touch.
- Will you visit my school?
Of course! I would be delighted to visit your school if I can get there. I love visiting schools and inspiring children to read and to write and I will travel to any part of the UK provided that travel costs can be met. A long distance visit may need overnight accommodation too but on these occasions I tend to do a mini-tour with several schools in one location, which brings the cost down a great deal. And yes, I visit schools abroad as well.
- Can you visit my festival, bookshop, library, writer's workshop, WI group or mountaintop lair?
Probably is the answer. I give talks to adult groups (such as U3A) as well as teachers, parents and children. I love visiting festivals and libraries in particular (see this blog post) and I try to support bookshops wherever possible. I also give ‘after-dinner talks’ and more – email me if you’d like details.
- What do you do on school visits?
I run different activities with different age groups but most sessions are a mix of fun, interactive elements which promote reading for pleasure. A typical session for younger children would include a story, lively interactive poems and a talk about what authors do and how books are made. For older children a presentation might include a slideshow about why it’s great being an author, excerpts from my books, interactive challenges, word games and a Q&A. I am happy to discuss working around themes or special events too.
- Are you able to work with all age groups?
I work with all primary age groups, although my books are mainly aimed at ages 7-11 so that is the age range which I spend most time with. I do sessions with Reception children but not usually Nursery, sorry! I also visit secondary schools to work with KS3 (usually Y7) and present a special event called The Reading Show with fellow author Alan Gibbons to promote reading at KS3. Please email me if you’d like more details.
- How long will you come in for?
A full day (or two days if you want to really make an impact with reading). I will do half-days for schools which are not too far away.
- Do you do writing workshops?
Very rarely. I have found over the years, visiting hundreds of schools around the UK, that my time is best spent promoting reading and inspiring children to want to read and write. I certainly give children ideas for writing and advice on how to write well but I leave the actual writing process to the experts – the teachers who know the children and their ability levels. What I find is that the children who read the most are the best writers and so primarily I get children reading!
- What about poetry workshops?
I do write children’s poems as well as fiction and non-fiction and yes, I run poetry sessions where I get children from 5-11 performing and joining in fun interactive poems. I help children understand how poems work and I give lots of ideas for writing poems, although I leave the actual writing to the teachers for after the sessions.
- How many sessions will you do in a day?
A maximum of four. I do sometimes add an assembly onto that and I am happy to run long sessions for KS2 children (90 mins plus for Y5 and 6) so that they can really benefit from meeting and working with an author.
- What size groups can you work with?
Any size, large or small. I typically work in a school hall with large groups and will make the sessions lively and interactive. I’m an ex-teacher so I know how to keep children engaged.
- Can you give talks to parents too?
Yes! I love addressing parents and speaking about the importance of encouraging their children to read for pleasure. I also have some very crafty strategies for ensuring that good numbers of parents turn up!
- What will it cost?
The basic cost of a school author visit (full day) is £400. I give a £100 discount for a two-day visit!
I do ask for travel costs to be covered on top of this and I am VAT registered (schools can claim VAT back). My local schools half-day rate is £250.
- Is there anything we can do before a visit?
Yes! The preparation that schools do before an author visit can make a huge difference to the success of the day. Here are my top tips:
- Buy some of the author’s books
- Read some excerpts to the class and share the books for reading
- Put them on display
- Show the children the author’s website
- Give children a chance to write down some questions they’d like to ask the author
- Will you do a book signing?
Most certainly! One of the very best ways to encourage children to read is to promote book ownership. A child who has just met an engaging author and has a signed book is going to read it!
I will send the school a flyer for parents to give them the opportunity to buy a signed book on the day.
- Is there anything else we need to know?
On the day, be prepared to laugh!
I send out a single page sheet to schools that book me which details everything you need to know to make the day a success for everyone. If you have other questions then please email me.