Thursday, July 11, 2013

Taking the Lead in the Library - Common Core Standards

 Common Core • Literacy • Author Visits
and How to Fund Author Visits

Literacy is at the core as the standards put forth by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers are coming into states across the nation.  Reading and literacy is emphasized across the entire curriculum: math, science and social studies.  Active engagement with the text is a goal of the standards.  A focus on fiction will stay but sharing that focus at least equally will be informational texts moving toward a ratio of 45% fiction to 55% informational texts at eight grade with the ratio shifting to 30% fiction to 70% informational texts by the time of high school graduation.  As readers move toward more interaction with text activities should move toward providing access to information background and overview, and with varied selections, readers must be exposed to multiple perspectives in order to assist the reader in interpretation of what is being read.

Common Core's overarching goal is literacy.

Author visits can provide the ultimate in literacy experiences.  Learning how an author utilizes research and primary source material emphasizes the role of informational text and primary sources.  Scheduling an author visit to your school is a sure-fire way to help put the focus on these common core standards.  Those authors who write, or illustrators who illustrate,  with a historical perspective or whose books emerge from another time period/setting can bring a focus on both literacy and social studies for example, the influence of setting on characters and plot; the concept of place in American (or world) history, changes in communication and transportation over time, and the economic and social consequences of personal decisions.

As with all activities in school any author visit should begin with a goal.  What are you trying to achieve/teach?  Authors might fit a specific goal (such as a diversity goal, writing, etc.)
While we can not list all the applicable standards for every grade level ( there are some notable examples.  For example each of the English Language arts standards include specifics in the "Craft and Structure" category.

(From the standards for third grade but similar for other grade levels) 
  •  CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.5 Refer to parts of stories, dramas, and poems when writing or speaking about a text, using terms such as chapter, scene, and stanza; describe how each successive part builds on earlier sections.  And author provides first hand analysis of a body of work that can provide a mentor text for readers future independent analysis. 
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.9 Compare and contrast the themes, settings, and plots of stories written by the same author about the same or similar characters (e.g., in books from a series)
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.3 Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.
These are just three of the many standards that could be part of an author's focus.  The key is not just the author's visit but the preparation that leads up to the author's appearance:  reading of books, asking questions, working to determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.2.  The day the author visits should be the culmination of a total literary focus.  The best author appearances come after thorough preparation -- reading, discovery, exploring, and thinking.

An author appearance can provide so much inspiration and boost the literacy component in any area of the curriculum, and at all levels.  Educators can use a pending author appearance as a stimulus for many activities leading up to the events and post appearance.  The practical conventions of preparing for an author visit are outlined in an online article, "Make the Most of An Author's Visit,"  at  The article outlines everything from making the arrangements to follow-up activities.

The individual activities created to prepare for the author will depend on the specific goals educators identify for the author focus.  There are many resources that will assist in identifying sources and resources.  Check out McBookwords: Author Visit Resources at

Funding an Author Visit

Schools never have enough funds for all the things they want to do.  But for those that wish to utilize the expertise of authors/illustrators to boost the literacy factor in their classroom/library can, with creative effort, find the resources.


Gateways to More Information / Fundraising ideas

Ideas for Cutting Costs - Not Cutting Corners

Briefly pairing library events with day long school visits, joining with local reading / library organizations, or with local literacy organizations such as local councils of the Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators to coordinate events, share travel expenses, negotiate a reduced rate.  Download a pdf list at

    Reference Book

    Reference book regarding author visits: ABCs of an Author Illustrator Visit by Sharron L. McElmeel, (Linworth Publishing) -- from the publisher:
    Build excitement about reading with successful author/illustrator visits and "virtual visit" celebrations
    Here's step-by-step help in organizing actual visits or "virtual" celebrations--including lively curricular activities. You'll find new models to help you gather community support, plus new ways to obtain funding and involve co-sponsors. All the necessary steps are covered: the choice of person, timing, place, equipment...getting the books, resource booklets, and videos...helping teachers publicize the event to students (including activities tied to various content areas)...and holding "proxy visits," events celebrating author/illustrator works, "Read-ins," or visits by e-mail. A number of reproducible forms help make any event flow smoothly--also aided by all the updated contact and related information in the resource section.
    Expanded with more ideas, guides, and updated resource information, including websites and new books
    Gives many examples of curriculum-related activities and ways to use the event to promote literacy
    Presents alternatives to on-site visits, author-focused celebrations, and virtual visits
    Promote enhanced literacy through an exciting celebration of books and the authors and illustrators who create them You'll build a love of reading, show connections between books (developing higher order thinking skills), and promote reading comprehension as young readers grow in authentic response to their reading.
Author Appearances

This post is sponsored by McBookwords - Arrange author visits with a select group of authors and illustrators: Jim Aylesworth, Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Rebecca Davis, Colin Bootman, F.T. Bradley, Jeni Reeves, Sharelle Byars Moranville, Nicole Rubel, Barbara Santucci, and Carol Gorman.  Cost of an author visit depends on specifics for the visit but generally includes an honorarium and travel expenses.  There is no additional cost for booking author appearances through McBookwords.  In fact, schools and libraries always receive more value as the professionals at McBookwords will help with all arrangements, field questions, provide suggestions for logistics, and help to make sure every aspect of the visit goes smoothly and results in a rewarding experience for all involved.

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