“Should you ever be so lucky as to encounter an author in your life, you should shower him or her with gifts and praise.” —Johnathan Auxier, SOPHIE SQUIRE AND THE LAST STORYGUARD
An author visit can make a huge difference in the lives of young readers—and reluctant readers. Presentations complement school curriculums, inspire children in their schoolwork, and can even change the lives of young students by sparking their imaginations and giving them added confidence. Author visits often also validate the lessons by teachers to their students. A win-win for everyone in the classroom.
Schools that are faced with tight budgets might have limited opportunities for author visits, but there are ways to gain the needed funds so your school can take advantage of this huge benefit.
Following are some ideas and links that teachers, librarians and writers have offered to help you fund author visits.
Read-a-thon or Write-a-thon – What better way to emphasize literacy and enhance students’ investment in a visit from an author than to host a read-a-thon/write-a-thon to help bring that author into their school. Set aside one day for students to do nothing but read or write, enjoy partner reading, read alouds, young author readings, etc., and send out a pledge form in advance of the day to raise funds.
Wish List – Add a request for sponsorship/partial-sponsorship of an author visit to the wish list on your class/library/school website.
PTA/PTO Funding Requests for Assistance – Request needed funds from your parent or community organization. Often, a parent is willing to assist with organizing the visit as well.
Local Business Event Sponsorship/Partnership – Local businesses and banks often have funds set aside to support community events. Ask if they might be interested in helping bring an author in and promoting their business to parents in return.
Share the Expense – Visiting authors and illustrators often appreciate the opportunity to connect with readers in multiple schools in an area. If your school is stretched to find funds for a full visit, reach out to a neighboring school, library, book club, community center or organization that may be interested in co-hosting the author.
Book Sales – Work with a bookstore that offers a 20% discount on the author’s or illustrator’s books. Fundraise by selling books at the regular price and use the discount you receive from the bookstore to offset the cost of bringing in the author or illustrator. For example, a typical hardcover picture book is $17.99, which means you generate $4 on every book sold. Sell 100 books and your school earns $400.
In-School Field Trip – Why hassle with scheduling buses and coordinating an off-site field trip when you can have an in-school field trip? Bring an author/illustrator in for a fun-filled day of live performances. For less than the cost of a movie per student, you can expose them to literature and world cultures. A per-student-cost of $3 to $5 can cover some or all of an author’s fees, depending on the amount of students participating.
Spare Change/Penny Drive – Ask children to start a penny drive or spare change drive to fund bringing in their favorite author or illustrator. You would be surprised how quickly collecting coins can add up. Plus, children take ownership and pride in knowing they were part of the visit.
TITLE I FUNDS
If your school qualifies for Title 1 funds, you may be eligible to apply some of your funding towards special programs like author visits. These author visits provide additional academic support and learning opportunities to help low-achieving children master challenging curricula and meet state standards in core academic subjects. Visit the U.S. Department of Education for more information.
WRITE A GRANT
A lot of funding is available to support the arts and arts education. (Get 3 Tips to Write Winning Grants) Here are some grant sources:
• Amber Brown Grant – The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) accepts submissions Nov. 1 to April 15. Get more information and apply here.
• Airborne Teacher Trust Fund – Airborne, Inc., has developed the Airborne Teacher Trust Fund program to help school communities across the nation revive ever-important learning programs such as arts education activities. Get more information and apply here.
• Dollar General Literacy Foundation’s grant programs support all ages to help improve the lives of people in many different communities by supporting schools and libraries to expand or implement literacy programs. Get more information and apply here.
• Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature seeks to sponsor activities for libraries and other committee services across the country to engage in the use of multicultural literature with children and young adults. Get more information and apply here.
• Target Community Grants – Target Stores supports a variety of arts and cultural experiences in their communities, giving local schools and arts organizations resources for outreach and education. Get more information and apply here.
• Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club awards Community Matching Grants. Grants are awarded locally through the retail store as part of their Good Works Program. Get more information and apply here.
• State Humanities and Arts Councils – Many state arts councils across the United States fund programs by visiting artists. Check with your state’s art council for more information. Find your state arts council using the State Art Agency Directory.
• Educational Enrichment Foundation offers classroom grants. Get more information and apply here.
• National Endowment for the Arts is committed to providing leadership in arts education. The arts are an essential component of education, and all children, not only those with specific artistic talent, benefit from an education in the arts including opportunities to create, perform, and communicate through various artistic media. Get more information and apply here.
• Donors Choose empowers public school teachers from across the country to request much needed materials and experiences for their students. Get more information and apply here.
• The Foundation Center has an information-filled website for individual and nonprofit grant seekers. The Foundation Center can help you locate and connect with grant funding sources. Get more information here.
• National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) offers a number of grant programs that support the arts and humanities. Grant guidelines and deadlines can be found on the NEH website. Get more information and apply here.
Grants are also available to members of library associations, writers associations and reading associations across the United States.
When it comes to gathering funds for author visits, the key is to be creative. These funds not only help to support the visiting artist, but make it possible for children to experience meeting and learning from a professional writer and/or illustrator. It is an experience that is inspirational, memorable and invaluable.