(Okay, sure, being able to meet the author in person is better. But author visits cost the author money and cost the school money. Skype visits are usually free and the only thing it requires is an internet connection.)
This year my class had five skype visits.
We made Origami Yoda with Tom Angleberger.
Thought about what we would wish for in a breadbox with Laurel Snyder.
Learned how to make large dragons out of duct tape with Jodi Moore.
Figured out ways to save the world with Marty McGuire and Kate Messner.
Visited the Monstore with Tara Lazar. You can head over to Tara Lazar's blog so that you can see the adorable and amazing monsters that my class created.
What's in it for the author? Besides getting to meet a bunch of cool kids who may be fans already, you also get to reach kids that may not have heard of you. More than half my class (of 22 kids) have bought the books of the authors that have come in through my Smartboard. Even more than that have found the book to read at our school library or the local library. When they go to bookstores and bookfairs they ask for books by those authors. And even better than that, they have started following those author's careers. They tell me when new books come out or if there are books by those authors that weren't mentioned in the Skype visit.
How do you give a successful Skype visit? Here are some things I found that kids love (in no particular order):
1. Be funny. It's really not a hard thing to do when your face is about a yard tall on our Smartboard screen.
2. Tell them about how you became a writer.
3. If you are Skyping from home, show them your pets or other special objects.
4. Read something from your book.
5. Don't just talk about yourself. Ask about them.
6. Don't be surprised when they ask questions like "How much do you get paid," or "How old are you?" Have your answer ready, even if it is laugh and avoid the question.
That last one may sound silly, but kids can tell if you love what you are doing and if you love listening to them. If you love them, they'll love you. I promise.
If you are a teacher reading this and you want to find authors who Skype, visit Kate Messner's Authors Who Skype With Classes and Bookclubs List.
Have you have an author Skype in? Have you been the Skyping author? Leave a comment below.