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Welcome Friends! Here is a place for teachers, parents, librarians and writers to learn what's going on in the world of book author Karma Wilson.

Missoula School Visit–a Great Experience!

A few months ago I did some author visits at two schools (Russell and Franklin) in Missoula, Montana. They went so fabulously I thought I would share some tips I learned from these wonderful school administrators (thank you Pat and Nancy!).

The main component in making an author visit successful is getting the kids pumped for the visit. If the kids aren’t excited for me to come, the visit will not be very exciting–period. I do my best, but nothing beats teachers working with the students before the visit to generate enthusiasm!

To get kids ready involves preparation. I will do my part, which is sending you ideas and materials to help prepare the students for the visit. Your part is spend weeks (not days) preparing students for the author visit. Use the time to read the author’s books, do crafts and activities which revolve around the author’s books, and let the the students check out the author’s website, etc…

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This is a great display the schools prepared for my visit. There were dozens and dozens of pictures of students reading my books. What a great idea! Every child felt included in the visit, which ensured the students had a vested interest in the visit succeeding! Eureka!

This is a craft (a little blurry, sorry) the kids made that is suggested on the Features for Teacher’s activities on my website. It is a paper quilt made of students’ drawings based on my bear books. It was truly adorable.

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But this wasn’t all they did! They also did hippo crafts for Hilda Must Be Dancing, they did Frog art, they made posters. The hallways were a tribute to reading and my books! This isn’t about my ego (really). It’s about getting the kids thrilled for the visit, and boy were they! Kids were literally coming up to me, hugging me, saying how excited they were. They were talking about how much they love books and reading and how long they had waited for the visit. It literally reminded me of kids who had waited for Christmas. The schools even did a countdown for weeks before the visit! Every day they would count down one more day until “Karma Wilson Day!”

Here is one of the posters that was made especially for the big day. Isn’t this great? When children see that the teachers are this excited, they figure it must be something big!

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If you are planning an author visit with me or ANY author I ask you to do what Russell and Franklin schools did. Get your students begging for the visit! There should be a carnival air to the whole event.

Here are a few more ideas:

1. A week leading up to the visit hold lotteries each day for a signed book.

2. Help kids think of great questions for my Q&A period, and be diligent about explaining the difference between a question and a statement or story. (I love hearing the names of their cats and their latest injuries, but it does eat time…heh heh!)

3. Kids are excited to share their stories with me, so have them write a story to give me when I leave.

4. Ask art teachers, librarians, and even the PE teachers to contribute to the visit. Art projects can revolve around themes in my books, librarians can encourage kids to check out my books or use my books in story time, and PE teachers can do physical activities related to themes in my books (Frog hopping, Bear crawls, etc…) You can even enlist the lunch cooks! Can Bear book themed foods be served on the day of the visit?

The more involved everybody in the school is, the more the kids will catch the enthusiasm for the visit. They will naturally be excited about reading and writing, and that is the whole purpose of any author visit! So go CRAZY and use your imagination! I guarantee, you won’t regret it!

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Karma