My author visits and creative writing workshops
What a blast I’ve had since starting my tour of Leeds Primary Schools in September!
Following the launch of my book ‘Gruesome Tales for Gruesome Boys’ in July 2019 I've been visiting schools in Leeds and running creative writing workshops for Key Stage 1 and 2.
The visits vary in content depending on year groups and the school’s individual requirements. From generic author visits (talking about the book, reading part of the book, discussing what it’s like to be an author, answering any questions), to fully interactive Creative Writing Workshops.
Feedback from both teachers and children has been excellent! The children have thoroughly enjoyed having a 'real life' author in their classroom, and (after howling with laughter at my gruesome tales) have enjoyed a variety of writing challenges - from creating our own gruesome characters (encouraging the use of adjectives and expanded noun phrases) which is heaps of fun, to more in depth story writing sessions where we focus on the structure of a story (beginning, middle, end) as well as scene setting, character development, plot and the importance of revision and editing. Quite often I will link the sessions to the year groups current topics, for example Tudor Times, Egyptians, WW2. It's great fun!
So, what's so great about an Author Visit?
It's fun! (And we learn most when we're having fun).
Well first of all it's great fun! It's great to see the kids excitement as they meet a 'real life author'.
It promotes and encourages reading
I recently read a fabulous article from The Literacy Trust (www.literacytrust.org) which described how, after an author visit, children are twice as likely to read above the expected level for their age, are more likely to enjoy reading, and are more likely to be highly confident in their reading.
I’m a huge advocate of keeping the magic of reading alive for children, and I truly believe that children who do not enjoy reading simply haven’t found the right book yet! Having an author in school can generate a huge amount of enthusiasm for reading - not just more books, but a wider variety of books! Children learn that reading is meant to be a pleasure and not a chore, a magical experience that can take them to far off worlds where they can discover new lands and meet new and exciting people! When children meet an author and learn what actually goes into writing a book (the planning, the endless nights of writing, the struggles, the joys), they can identify and connect with the book in a much more personal way, and they can develop a true appreciation for the beauty of books.
It can help reluctant readers
Interacting with an author in person may help struggling or reluctant readers - learning about what it’s like to be an author, what it’s like writing a book and seeing it come to life - it can really spark an interest in books! Having met the author, children can connect with a book in a more meaningful way, and if they take a copy of the book home (particularly a signed copy) they will treasure it and may read it again and again.
It can support classroom learning
When an author reinforces the importance of planning, character development, scene setting, plot development, feedback, revision, and aspects such as ‘show don’t tell’, this can really help to cement the lessons that are currently being taught in the classroom, and teachers feel their hard work is being supported and validated.
It can inspire and motivate children to write (and it can improve their confidence)
It’s important that children know that their favourite books were not written in one sitting. They didn’t just magically appear. An author can describe the messy process, from writing really bad drafts, revising again and again, and even starting over. This teaches them that practice, feedback and revision can result in great work, and that their own work can improve in this way too! Authors can pass on their own writing tips which encourages children to give writing a go themselves. They get to ask questions. They get to know where ideas come from. They get to know how characters are brought to life. They get to learn top author secrets that they can now apply to their own writing!
It reminds children of the importance of creativity, and the importance of pursuing a passion
Some children believe that being an author (or an illustrator or other type or artist/creative) isn’t really a ‘proper job’. Meeting a real life author can show children that with hard work, dedication and perseverance, it is possible to become an author. It also reminds them that if they have a creative passion (whether it’s writing, painting, music, crafts) they really can and should pursue it if their heart so desires.
For some children, this may be the first opportunity they have to meet and connect with someone in the arts who may serve as a role model and encourage them to reach for their own dream! They are reassured that normal people can and do make a career doing something they love.
“We cannot overstate how important author visits are for sparking a love of reading and writing in children that will ignite their imaginations, enhance their wellbeing and transform their life chances.”
Author visits are without a doubt an investment in the future generation
Children are left feeling excited, impressed and inspired. They will hopefully have a different perspective on reading and writing and may now be inspired to pursue their own creative passions.
And so my tour of Leeds primary schools continues. I LOVE visiting primary schools and running my creative writing workshops or simply reading in assemblies and doing author talks. They are beneficial on SO many levels.
If you work at a school and would like some more information about an author visit or creative writing workshop please send an email to email@example.com - I’d be delighted to hear from you! I am currently visiting schools in Leeds but I may travel further afield (in this case daily rates apply - email me for details).
If you liked this you may also like ‘The importance of reading with children’
Love, Fran x
ABOUT FRAN GRANT
Fran Grant is a writer and children's author. She is also the wife of a very patient husband and the mother of 3 energetic little boys. As a self-confessed bookworm and book hoarder, she is a huge believer in keeping the magic of reading alive for children. After many years in the corporate world, Fran is now fulfilling her lifelong ambition of writing books.
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