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Author visits : do they make a difference?

Authors visit schools - so what is their effect? Are they worth the time, effort and money?
by

Dianne Mckenzie

on 5 June 2010

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Transcript of Author visits : do they make a difference?

Author Visits :
Do they make a difference? My small research project... Two Authors Deborah Ellis Morris Gleitzman 5 questions 1. Does the author visit result in
more reading by the students? 2. Do Author visits change students reading habits? 3. Does it make a difference when
there is preparation before the visit? 4. Was there a gender bias toward
any of the authors? 5. Is the effect of the author
visit a long term one? 1. Does the author visit result in
more reading by the students? Deborah Ellis books
Two of her books been borrowed 3 times since 2005 - 2009
After her visit in February 2010, her books
have been borrowed a total of 17 times Looked at borrowing
records before and after visits. None of Morris Gleitzman books
had been borrowed since 2002 Since his visit in Sept 2008 Morris' books
have been borrowed over 350 times. Conclusion : Authors visits lead to an increase
in reading of their own books. 2. Do Author visits change students reading habits? Who was reading the authors work?
Were they students who were already avid readers or were they students who didn’t read very much? Conclusion : Author visits give students
exposure to new authors, but may not lead
to an overall increase in reading. 3. Does it make a difference when there is
preparation before the visit? Before Morris visit - <10% had heard of him, only 2.5% had read any of his books. We had no time to prepare for the visit as it was only 3 weeks after we opened a new campus The visit consisted of him
introducing himself and
his work Two of Deborah Ellis' books were being read as class texts - not all the students had read them. Year 6 teachers had read aloud one of her books to the class and discussed it. The questions from the year 6's were
deeper asking about to the lives of the people who were depicted, and how Deborah collected her information. Conclusion : Familiarity with an Author and their work before they
visit does make a difference to the depth of thinking, questions and
understandings of the authors work.
Repeat visits could be beneficial.
4. Was there a gender bias toward any of the authors? Slightly more reading by boys than
girls of Morris Gleitzman books
184 males : 173 females Signifigantly more reading by girls
of Deborah Ellis books.
12 males : 32 females

Both authors deal with signifigant issues in their work - Morris has dealt with
Cancer, HIV/AIDS ,refugees and internment, animal cruelty, divorce, single
parenthood, lifestyle choices, the holocaust plus more. Deborah has wriiten about political oppression, child slavery, refugees, HIV/AIDS, womens rights and children in war.
Morris would be considered humorous fiction, whereas Deborah's work is realistic fiction. Conclusion : It does not seem to matter about the content of the books, or presentation or the sex of the author, what does seem to matter is how the content is presented both in person and in the books. If it is presented in a humorus way, then young males will be more inclined to read it and prefer it. Females will also enjoy the humor, but will also like realistic fiction and issues dealt with in a realistic manner.
5. Is the effect of the author
visit a long term one? Conclusion : If an author has visited the school, and they
continue to publish, the students and teachers will choose
the known author over another who they do not
have a personal connection with. Authors with multiple titles and themes will
appeal to many different readers If there is a personal connection with an author through a meeting, a student will gravitate toward that author in their selection rather than select an unknown author. Teachers may also be inclined to use
Authors work in classes if the author
has visited. Author's thoughts: They believe they are making a difference, most have good intentions regarding promoting reading and writing rather than just themselves and their work. Pre preparation before a visit
does make a difference Making the personal connection through visits is
vital for staying in touch with their readers Author visits do increase their profiles
and readership, but that allows them to
keep publishing Teacher Librarian thoughts... Exposes students and staff
to contemporary authors Author visits add value
to the curriculum Encourages writing Adds variety the school
programme Increases excitement over reading Lifts the profile of the Library Students thoughts... "Learn more about writing from the professionals" "Author visits are amazing" "I like to meet them to find out more about how they think and how they make up the stories" Find out about new books I like reading and they made the books - "that is so cool" Teacher Thoughts "Author visits are the ultimate book talk" "I learn about new authors" "There is a noticeable rise in the interest in writing after an author visit" "Students are shown that the writing process is a slow one with many drafts and checking." SO..... Do Author visits make a difference? YES THEY DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
on so many different levels :

promotion of the library,
exposure to new authors,
excitement about reading,
experimenting with writing,
connecting with another person and their work, thinking about the processes involved,
be inspired to do something other than that what they dream of,
and, to meet someone famous! Thanks to :
All the Teacher Librarians and Librarians who sent in comments
The students and staff who were interviewed
The authors who were gracious with their time to answer questions - Deborah Ellis, Robert Muchamore, Jack Gantos, M.Anthony Steele, and Susanne Gervay. To see the raw collection of data and summary
http://drop.io/authorvisits Dianne McKenzie Dianne McKenzie is a PYP, MYP Teacher Librarian working at Discovery College, Hong Kong.
Author visits : Do they make a difference? by Dianne McKenzie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Hong Kong License. There was not enough data on student borrowing habits before Morris' visit to conduct any comparisons. Most new readers of Deborah Ellis were passionate readers who changed from their favourite authors to read her books.

Other avid readers had eclectic tastes, read one Deborah Ellis book and moved on to other authors

Two students who had low borrowing rates borrowed
some of her non fiction, but did not change their reading
habits very much
Full transcript