The last week of February is typically celebrated as Nevada Reading Week, leading to the National Reading Month of March. This time is always busy for volunteers, teachers, librarians, and authors. There are book reading sessions and author visits at a majority of schools.
I’ve always wanted to participate in this event but always missed my window. So during the 2021 Las Vegas Book Festival, I made it a point to start making contacts with teachers and librarians and offered to present. To make the deal sweeter, I would do it for free-fifty. It was a way of giving back and also getting some good practice! It was perfect timing since Mischief and Mayhem was just released, and it will be a fun book to show the kids.
This week and the days leading up to it had become pretty busy but in a good way. There were a few online presentations, but the best ones were in-person presentations. You can’t match the energy of talking to the audience face to face. (scroll down past the photos for lessons).
Author Presentation Lessons
- Energy levels: Morning presentations are the best. On day one, I stacked three with about an hour each (300+ kids). The energy level is high (kids, teachers, and myself). When the presentations are in the afternoon, you can tell that the energy is much lower (after a full day of school), and kids probably want to go home. After three hours, my voice was in the early stages of going out. Good thing that it was a wrap for the day, so I went home and took a much needed nap.
- School visit are like dances: The effort, participation, and interest that the author and audience put in will direct the mood, energy, and excitement. A teacher/librarian who puts a little bit of extra oomph and makes an event out of it will make the author feel welcomed and the kids will feel excited too.
- Get the right age group: During one of my visits, there was a miscommunication where the teacher/librarian assigned me to present at a much older age group for my book. Let’s just say that the presentation did not make as much of a connection as when I was presenting to the proper group. I still did the spiel, but once the air cleared, I got out quickly! Ah! Lesson learned.
- Technical issues happen: Typically, I present using my iPad connected to a projector. The advantage of the iPad is that I can draw on it, show time-lapse videos, and other illustrations. I don’t need to mess with paper, easel etc.
But even after confirming with the school about their IT/technology capabilities, sometimes things still do not work. In my case, they didn’t have HDMI connectivity. Make sure to bring your cables, adapters, or even a USB stick with presentation assets. I got a USB memory stick but ended up leaving it on their computer, so now I have to buy another one.
While in While in the middle of my presentation, my iPad started to take a poop and reboot, something it’s never done before. It could have been a power surge or compatibility issue, but it hasn’t done it ever since! So I had to improvise while it was recovering.
4. Enjoy the moment: Kids at this age are fantastic, and when they connect with you, it is a very memorable moment. Prepare, don’t stress out too much, get in and out, smile!
- The Q&A part is always fun. I love hearing questions and sharing my experience
- When kids start drawing and sharing their work
- When kids are a little rowdy and giving you ideas for your next book… hilarious!
- There’s always one or two kids who will come up and show you their sketchbook. I encourage them to keep creating and when they’re famous, to contact me! This time it was a kid named Solomon!
After this, I’m taking stock of what went well and what I can improve. For my next presentation, I’m planning on incorporating more interactive elements.
Big thanks to the teachers and librarians from the schools I visited and I hope to see you again next time.