Arrange an author or illustrator visit 

Bringing a writer, poet, illustrator or storyteller into your school is a great way to inspire children and bring reading to life.

Like the idea of inviting an author or illustrator to your school, but just don't know where to start? Here are some simple steps to planning your event.

How to arrange an author visit

Author-illustrator and former Children's Laureate Chris Riddell visiting a school in Manchester in 2016

Plan your event

  • Identify your aims. do you want to increase enthusiasm for reading, develop writing skills, focus on a particular genre, or make your visit the focal point of a celebration of reading, such as Children's Book Week?
  • Think about the format. Would you like your writer or illustrator to share their work with the whole school, answer questions, or run a workshop with a smaller group?
  • Find your writer or illustrator. You may have a wishlist in mind, but be aware that those who are well known may be booked up in advance - have a check via their publisher to find out. Alternatively, contact one of the organisations below to find a writer with experience of working in school settings, or talk to colleagues or staff in your local bookshop or library for recommendations of writers and illustrators in your area. Take a look at the Society of Authors' advice on paying authors for their visits.

How to prepare

  • Practical arrangements: make sure your visitor has all the information they will need well in advance, such as a map, useful contact details, start/finish times, information about your school, and transport information.
  • Prepare your pupils. Read and discuss your writer or illustrator's books and build up excitement around the visit. Make sure you have their books available in the library, and invite children to design posters or book covers to create displays.
  • Books to buy: you may want to organise books for children to purchase and have signed on the day. Contact your local bookshop for help with this, and make sure you provide parents with information in advance.

On the day

  • Meet and greet: be available to greet your visitor when they arrive. Introduce them around the staff room and ensure you factor in time for a cup of tea or coffee.

After the event

  • Follow up with the class. Talk about the visit and what children enjoyed most. You may like to write individual or class letters to thank your writer or illustrator.
  • Share with your colleagues. Discuss your experiences: what might you do differently next time? Who might you like to invite to visit in future?

Useful contacts

The following organisations and agencies offer advice about finding a writer or illustrator, or can make bookings on your behalf:

For a specific author or illustrator, try contacting the publisher at first. Bear in mind that to arrange a visit from someone very well-known, you will need to plan well in advance.

Many locally-based storytellers, writers and illustrators have considerable experience of working in schools and bring as much "magic" to a visit as the star authors.

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Resources and activities

Browse through our useful resources: from lesson plans and reading tips, fun activities and tools for teachers.