Wednesday, January 14, 2009


In yesterday's post, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publicist Jennifer Taber's Marketing and Promotions Advice for Launching Your Next Book, Taber emphasizes the importance of authors and illustrators to not depend on their publisher for all their publicity needs but to get out and market their books themselves. One avenue Taber mentions is school visits. Now we all know authors who make more money in school visits than on their books, but how do they do it? How do they keep those little eyeballs in their audience from glazing over?

I say, play to your strengths. For me, my strength is helping kids tap into their creativity as well as showing them that they have it in them to write better. My school visits are hands-on writing activities and working with kids to show each and every one of them that they are amazing writers. Often, the students surprise not only me by what lays dormant within them, but themselves.

Here are some examples of my favorite programs:

Poetry in the Classroom: Music-Art-Poetry

Poetry in the Classroom: Mask Poems

Poetry in the Classroom: Haiku I & Haiku II

Poetry in the Classroom: Acrostic Poems

Poetry in the Classroom: Father's Day/Mother's Day/etc Poems

I have a lot more that I have not yet blogged so stay tuned:)

How do you conduct school visits?


  1. Thanks, Jill. You're so generous to share these wonderful techniques to use in the classroom.

    My favorite writing activity when doing school visits is riddle-writing. I believe it's not emphasized in the classroom quite as much as fiction writing or report writing, so it definitely reaches out to kids, especially those reluctant writers (and who doesn't like to laugh and tap into that silly, creative part of the brain?). I imagine that you can say the same thing about many poetry forms too.

    I'm looking forward to reading your future posts. Thanks again!

  2. Thanks, Terry.

    Actually I am a huge fan of riddle poems and I know you are the queen of riddle one-liners:)

    To teach riddle poems, use the MASK POEMS lesson but tell the kids that they do not mention the object in the title or the poem, but that they must give concrete clues so the reader can figure out the riddle.

    I have written about 100 riddle poems with themes from garbage cans to basketballs, and have a Halloween collection currently out on submission.

  3. The awesome J. PATRICK LEWIS gave some pointers on facebook and for all of you non-facebookers I wanted to share it here. To learn more about J. Patrick Lewis visit his website at:

    Jill, I don't envy the author/illustrator breaking into school visits for the first time. Everyone stumbles until they realize what works and what doesn't. For me the key is to spend a lot of time on interactive material. Kids want to participate, they don't want to be lectured to. So I read a lot of riddles, math poems, science poems and tell picture book stories that allow me to emote much like an actor or storyteller. For the wee ones I have them up and bouncing to jump rope rhymes. After you have done it as many times in as many schools (400) as I have, you know your audience. School visits then become second nature. I don't mean in any way that they become boring because every school is different. I LOVE K-5 kids! And I like to think, at the end of the day, that the feeling is more or less mutual. That is almost sure to happen if you convince your young audience that there is no other place on earth you would rather be than hanging out
    with them. So break a leg! Pat


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