Until 2020, I'd never done a virtual author visit. Until this year, I never even did videocalls with friends, because I wasn't comfortable with the technology! But with the Covid-19 pandemic, many things have changed, and this has been the year that I've embraced the technology, and started doing virtual visits.
What better way to enthuse children to read & write, than to ‘meet’ the author of their favourite books. 😁 An amazing & inspiring virtual author visit with @whatSFSaid for our Year 4 classes & their teachers this afternoon! 😁 #readingforpleasure #readtowrite pic.twitter.com/5KBINtzacu— KEJ Cox MCCT (@kejcox) October 22, 2020
As a children's author, I've been visiting schools since 2003. I believe it's worth doing anything that can get children excited about reading. All the research shows that reading for pleasure has the biggest impact of any factor on a child's life chances. And the personal interaction and connection that an author visit creates can engage them and get them excited about reading in a way that nothing else can.
Over the years, I've met many children who never liked books before, and thought reading was for other people, not them – but then got it during an author visit, and now couldn't stop. I've met children who had struggled to write a single sentence, but went on to write books of their own. Sometimes I've heard from them years later, telling me how the visit inspired them. It's clear that it was a turning point in their lives.
Year 4 had a fantastic afternoon meeting @whatSFSaid on Zoom. They loved reading Varjak Paw in class and had many interesting questions to ask him. Thank you S.F.Said for inspiring our young writers. pic.twitter.com/is9WDoU0NP— Allington Primary (@AllingtonPS) December 11, 2020
I wasn't sure if a virtual visit could have the same kind of impact. But I do the same thing on a virtual visit that I do in person: I talk to the children about stories. I share my favourites and I hear about theirs. And it becomes clear to them that books are for EVERYONE, and that everyone can be a reader. And they see that authors are people like themselves, which helps them to see themselves as writers, too; people who have stories of their own to tell.
Book Week is underway with students taking part in quizzes and competitions across the school. Y5 and 6 enjoyed 'meeting' author @whatSFSaid yesterday and posing their own questions to him! #bookweek #OFScreativity #OFSempathy pic.twitter.com/ITrpnbXXYg— Orley Farm School (@OrleyFarmSchool) October 14, 2020
It's been brilliant to see the impact of the virtual visits I've done this year, even when children were isolating at home. I am so glad that technology gives us a way to keep the interaction and connection going, and to continue inspiring children to read. So THANK YOU to all the teachers, librarians, schools and festivals that have organised virtual visits with me this year. And for anyone thinking about organising one, and wondering if it's worth it – I absolutely believe that it is!
What a treat! 🐱— Roundhay School Y5 (@RoundhayY5) November 6, 2020
This afternoon we were lucky enough to have a virtual Q&A with one of our favourite authors from Year 4, @whatSFSaid. The children were so inspired about the writing, drafting and authorial process. Thank you, and thank you @RewLeonie for organising! #nextlevel pic.twitter.com/Z3RvYeUjGi