One good way to develop a school program is by watching what other author/illustrators do. Call the media specialists at schools in your area to see if they are hosting a visit, and ask if you can join the audience.
You will discover that many authors/illustrators talk about their experience (their creating/publishing “journey”) – how their first book was researched, written/illustrated, and published. Getting a story published is a rarity, and both kids and adults are usually intrigued by the process. People are astonished to learn, for instance, that writers usually do not find their own illustrators or that the sale price of a book does not go directly and entirely into the author’s and illustrator’s pockets.
If your book’s topic has a relationship with the school curriculum, you may want to build your program around the information that you researched when you created your story.
Include audiovisuals in your programs to illustrate what you are saying. Nowadays, most schools are able to project PowerPoint programs. All schools have an overhead projector to project transparencies.
Kids love props. I bring stuffed animals to show children the marine and river mammals in my bedtime stories, Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean and River Beds: Sleeping in the World’s Rivers. I pass around quartz crystals, like the “sparkly rock” that Julie finds in my Earth Science book, Julie the Rockhound.
Keep your programs short enough to fit into the school schedule. Forty-five minutes is a good length for grades 3 and older. But primary school’ers (Grades pre-K through 2) get squirmy after 30 minutes. Allow a brief amount of time for questions and answers at the end of each program. Be sure the school schedule includes 10-15 minute breaks between programs. (You may need a bathroom break. Plus, it takes time to get a group of children out of the room and bring a new group in.)
As you accumulate more books, you may want to offer different programs geared to your various titles or to the age/grade of your audience. Often, schools want authors/illustrators to do a hands-on program (a writing workshop or a drawing class) for selected participants. It may sound like a lot of work to prepare several programs, but you can add new programs gradually. Eventually, you will probably enjoy having several programs so that you don’t find yourself saying the same thing over and over.
For more information about Gail Karwoski, visit her website, http://gailkarwoski.com/ or visit the Sylvan Dell Publishing website, http://www.SylvanDellPublishing.com. For additional inquiries or to schedule an interview with Ms. Karwoski, contact Sara Dobie, Public Relations, at 877-958-2600 or SaraDobie@SylvanDellPublishing.com.