Corona Library had a visitor this week: Zaria Fierce author Keira Gillett!
We had such a great time. Keira is awesome – personable, ready to jump in and talk, and great with the kids. My Corona kids are a little nervous when meeting someone new, but she knew just how to get them talking: she decided to raffle off a set of her books! The kids mobbed the table, and a few finally started to ask her about the books.
When it was time for our reading, I moved everyone into our meeting room so the kids doing homework could stay focused on homework and so Keira didn’t have to yell (with almost 100 kids in my children’s room after school, our library is most definitely a living organism – apologies to Dr. Ranganathan). The kids gathered ’round, and Keira read a selection from Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest; she put on different voices (that is precisely how I imagined Olaf!), she had a wonderful reading speed and volume, and her audience was rapt. No one said a word, and if you know my Corona kids, that is an accomplishment!
After the reading, I tried to give some gentle prompts to get the kids talking. They tend to be shy, and they’re still working on learning how to discuss books, so we didn’t get much, but Keira and I had a brief Q&A session, her awesome boyfriend, Neil, donated an additional set of books to our library (thank you!!), and I picked a raffle winner. We took some pictures, I gave out Zaria Fierce coloring sheets, and the kids went back to their homework and books.
It was a great experience, and I’m so grateful to Keira Gillett and Neil for coming to visit, for their support of Queens Library (did I mention that we’re the only library in Queens to have the Zaria Fierce books? You can make a request!), and I can’t wait to let you know when I hear more about the third book in the series. I got a sneak peek at some of the artwork, and all I can say is WOW.
What I’ve learned: author visits are a great way to get kids to sit for a program. They’re often shy – at least my kids are – about asking questions, though, so make sure to have some basic questions prepped for a Q&A: the writer’s inspiration, what she/he does for a living in addition to being a writer, likes, dislikes.
Raffles rock: Kids love a chance to get something for free, sure, but it’s also about that moment of recognition when the name comes out of the box/hat/whatever you have the names in. Use that raffle gathering time to promote the book, steer kids to the author to talk about the book, get them excited about the book and the reading.
Authors are amazing: The patience and generosity an author exhibits when surrounded by a bunch of kids cannot be measured. Pay it forward: have their books available, booktalk them like wild, and let the author see their event promoted in the library. Know what the book’s about, and make the author and her/his entourage feel comfortable. Next time, I need to grab some bottled water and have snacks available.
Wrap it Up: Make sure to introduce your author to your manager and assistant manager. It’s respectful to both administration and your author. And write up the experience, provide some pictures, get bragging rights out there so people know what a great program you had.
Here’s some video from Keira’s reading. Enjoy!