Image via CrunchBaseLately I've been posting about banned books, but today I want talk about the importance of celebrating literacy to encourage reading. A great way to kick off or culminate a literacy focus for your school is through an author visit. I say this not just as an author, but as a former teacher. I've seen so many connections between writer and reader from both sides. They can be truly transformative. I recall one school visit where a student was so excited about the topic (bald eagles) that he ended up assisting me in a fact game. He was thrilled. I learned later that this student was autistic and did not generally participate in class discussions. Other visits have culminated in story writing, art displays, research projects, and book journeys that may not have otherwise happened.
Unfortunately, in this climate of economic constraint, not all schools can afford to have an author visit no matter how wonderful the connections between writer and reader. Now, there is another way, a virtual author visit using Skype. While I've not myself participated in a virtual classroom visit, many of my colleagues. While they do pose some challenges, virtual classroom visits can be very rewarding. This summer when visiting Salt Spring Island, my colleague and friend Margriet Ruurs showed me how it's done. One of these days, I'll give it a try. But, in the meantime Margriet has written a helpful article about it in Canadian Teacher Magazine; Using Skype to Bring Experts into the Classroom by Margriet Ruurs. You won't regret it.