S.A. Bodeen. Alan Gratz. April Henry. Bruce Arant. Gary D. Schmidt.
Mary Gregoski from Palmer Public Schools has hosted an author visit from each and every author listed above. A master of new title introduction, Gregoski is here to shed some light on book promotion for all grade levels and author visits from her personal experiences.
What types of introduction to new titles do you find to be the most effective at your school?
To introduce students to new titles, we display new books in a prominent area of the library. We have a designated place for elementary books and one for junior high/high school books. Sometimes I introduce new books to elementary by reading them during library class. For my 7-12 students, I ask students to read new books and then let me know their thoughts. I don't have time to read all the new books before putting them on the shelf. The most effective way for me to promote new books to junior high/high school students is to share titles one-on-one.
What do you have in place for students and staff to recommend new titles or topics?
Students and staff recommend new titles or topics by emailing me or sharing the information with Mrs. Happ, the library aide, and she writes it down in a book. I tell my students and staff members that I am willing to order any book they suggest because I know it will be read. And, they will most likely share the book with others.
Does your library have a section just for teachers of professional books? If so, how do you promote those titles?
Yes, I do have a professional development section in my library. I promote these books at the beginning of the school year during my presentation at in-service days. I also talk about these periodically throughout the school year. I am so glad that I began this professional library as I have had several teachers throughout the year ask for books to be added. The best advertising is by word of mouth. I love that teachers are talking about books throughout the year and using them to enhance their profession.
Please tell me more about these author visits.
My school's first author visit began with S.A. Bodeen. I heard her speak at the Literature Festival in Norfolk, and I was intrigued by her presentation about writing The Raft. She shared her stories of failing to be published and her stories of success. When I left her session, I just knew I needed to bring her to Palmer. Many of my students had already read her novel The Compound and enjoyed it. I knew they would love this story, The Raft, as well. To make sure her visit would happen, I asked my superintendent if he would allow this great opportunity to come to Palmer. He said, "Yes, but you have to find the money." Finding the money has not been difficult for me to bring any authors here to Palmer. Our school has an Endowment Fund to which I write letters to support bringing authors to our school. The generosity of this committee is wonderful! I contact the author via email, once I have stalked them on their website. We talk about dates and what and to whom they will present. I ask other schools if they are interested in hosting an author because most authors do a half-day workshop. Each time I have brought in an author, the students offer rave reviews. Once I find out which author I will be inviting, I make a display of his books and do lots of book talks. I have hosted S.A. Bodeen, Alan Gratz, April Henry, Bruce Arant, and just this year, Gary D. Schmidt. Having an author come to visit with kids is just an awesome experience for everyone.