Boost your school’s literacy curriculum with an author visit from Harriet Muncaster
Harriet Muncaster is the author and illustrator of nine books for children, including the Isadora Moon series. She has also illustrated a further five books. Harriet is available for an author visit to your school now!
Three great reasons to book an author/illustrator for your school
- Boost children’s writing confidence – authors are real people who live and work today, not just names on a cover. They started out learning to write at primary school, just like your pupils!
- Make reading exciting – stories are more than printed words: they are portals into other worlds that don’t just begin and end between the covers. Author visits bring the world of the book to life.
- Show the importance of drafting and resilience – no pictures or stories come out fully formed first time. Drafting and redrafting in response to editor’s comments is all part of the process. Becoming a multiple-published author and illustrator takes patience and hard work to make everything you produce the best it can be.
Free resources for Schools
More resources will be added over time, so check back here often.
What would a typical visit look like?
- Morning assembly – Harriet gives a brief talk introducing herself and her work.
- Rest of the morning – two or three 45-60 minute workshop sessions with individual classes.
- After lunch – two more workshop sessions with individual classes
- Last half-hour – sign books, answer questions from small groups or individual children
- After school – Harriet would be happy to stay an extra half-hour or so to talk with parents and children
A half-day could include two or three workshop sessions, an assembly talk and a book signing session at lunch-time or at the end of the day.
A single session could be a longer assembly talk, or a single workshop session.
What will work best for your school depends on what you would most like to get from the author visit, how much preparation you would like to do with classes in advance, and how many children you would like Harriet to work with.
Harriet is happy to adjust her author visit to the needs of your school, for example spending less time doing class workshops in order to deliver a longer talk in assembly. It is possible for Harriet to visit as many as seven classes in one day, although this limits her time with each group and can be less effective.
If you let us know what your ideal author visit would look like, we can work to make it happen.
Does Harriet charge a fee for author visits?
Yes. For details of fees, please contact Harriet’s events coordinator using the contact form.
Just like any other job, authors have to pay bills too! Visiting schools is a service Harriet offers, and each school visit requires several hours of preparation beforehand and travel to and from the school, as well as the time on the day. Not only is the school paying for the author’s time, but also their experience and expertise as professional writers.
While Harriet does have fixed fees for full-days, half-days and single sessions, she is also happy to offer significant discounts if a book order is placed by the school in advance – see the next two questions.
Will Harriet be selling her books at the school?
Yes! Without book sales, authors are unable to continue publishing quality books. Creating stories for children to enjoy is Harriet’s livelihood, so supporting this is greatly appreciated.
For the purpose of an author visit though, it is also important to offer the books for children to take away. How much more inspired would a child be to sit down and finish a book that has a personal dedication to them in it? What might they go on to read?
As author and library media specialist Toni Buzzeo said in an interview for Education World: “When a kid has met an author of a book, he owns that book more than anything else he’s ever read. It streamlines the approach to encouraging kids to read. You don’t even have to encourage them.”
How do we order books for the day?
What can be more special than having your own copy of a book signed to you by the author? Giving children the chance to purchase their own copy of the book at the end of the day helps to cement that engagement with reading and enjoying a story. But this can only happen with some prior organisation.
There are three ways to make sure copies of the books are available for your author visit:
- Order directly from the publisher at a 30% discount, then return any unsold stock for a refund.
- Contact a local independent bookshop, or Waterstones, to supply books for the day.
— Note: with options 1 and 2 we can offer a discount on the author fee for the day —
- Harriet has a small stock of books she can bring to events.
Back to the fees – don’t some authors do school visits for free?
Occasionally, authors will visit schools as part of a book tour without charging a fee to the school. Book tour visits are organised by publishers in conjunction with booksellers such as Waterstones or Scholastic. For these book tours, the publishers meet all expenses with the costs being covered by large volume book sales.
These are organised at the publisher’s discretion and will be at larger schools with existing links to booksellers or the publisher. If you represent such a school, Harriet is happy to explore this option.
Harriet is also happy to offer a discount of a book order is placed – see question above.
Will Harriet want to take photos?
It’s always helpful to know in advance which children have photography consent from parents. A few snaps from the day are not only a lovely memento: they can also be used to promote your school on your own social media or school blog. Harriet also loves to talk about the great experiences she has at each school visit on her own blog.
Can we invite the local press?
Please do! It’s great for raising your school’s profile and can add even more excitement to the day for the children.
Where will Harriet travel to?
Harriet is based in Bedfordshire, but will travel UK-wide if expenses are met. Expenses are 25p per mile, travelling from Central Bedfordshire. If an overnight stay is required (more than 2½ hours away), an extra £40 will be requested for accommodation. Contact Harriet’s events coordinator for a quote.
What year groups can Harriet work with?
Harriet is comfortable delivering to children of any age from primary through to secondary. She has previous experience of delivering to every primary age group, and delivering talks to years 8 and 9. Sessions for younger children will focus more on the joy of reading and the fun of creating stories. Sessions for older children will highlight Harriet’s passion and processes for creating finished works of fiction, as well as the career of being an author/illustrator.
Which children will Harriet’s Isadora Moon series appeal to?
Isadora Moon is a little girl whose dad is a vampire and whose mum is a fairy, making her a vampire fairy. The six books in the series so far describe her adventures as she decides which school to go to, goes on holiday and school trips, has a birthday party, and gets into trouble by following her older cousin. The books are highly illustrated ‘young reader’ titles of around 6,000 words aimed at children aged 4-9. You can read more about them on Harriet’s books page.
Why could the Isadora Moon series be suitable for our school?
As ‘young readers’ the books bridge the gap between simple ‘first reader’ books and wordier children’s books such as those by Roald Dahl or Enid Blyton. This can be appealing to less confident readers who may otherwise struggle to make that transition. The frequent illustrations break up larger blocks of text, and offer contextual clues to help with difficult words or sentences.
The themes and messages within the stories also offer potential points for class discussion. For example:
- In Isadora Moon Goes to School, Isadora struggles with her mixed vampire/fairy heritage and the expectations of her parents when deciding which school to go to. After trying out both types of magical schools, she decides to follow what is right for her and go to human school, where everyone is different and everyone is accepted.
- When Isadora Moon Gets in Trouble it is because she listens to the advice of her older cousin, against her better judgement. She ends up getting sent home from school and lying to her parents, before ultimately learning an important lesson about giving in to peer pressure.
- A primary theme of Isadora Moon Goes on a School Trip is judging someone before you get to know them. In this case, Isadora’s classmates are all afraid of Oscar the ghost until he dons a disguise and they have a chance to find out what he’s really like.
Will boys be interested?
It can sometimes be difficult getting most boys interested in pink books involving fairies. However, Isadora is only half-fairy and only half-pink. Boys often respond to the vampire elements of the story, the bats, the dragon, and the wizard. Of course the activities and learning in Harriet’s sessions appeal equally to boys and girls.
Are there any resources we can use before or after the author school visit?
See the resources section above.
If you would like to plan a project leading up to the visit, let us know when you contact Harriet’s events coordinator and we can help with this. The more preparation your classes do in advance, the more valuable the author visit can be.
For example, the children could study an Isadora Moon title as a writing model, and then attempt to write their own story. This could be a ‘what do you think will happen next?’ or they could even create their own characters and stories. On the day of the author visit, they could then showcase their creations to Harriet. The children could ask questions about any challenges they faced in doing this, and ask Harriet for advice. Following their session with Harriet, they could work on redrafting and improving their writing. The results could then be sent on to Harriet via email.
For an example of how one class used Isadora Moon as a writing stimulus, see this blog post.
Please let us know if there are any resources you would love to have before the visit, and we can look into helping create these.
Any other reasons to book a school author visit?
Any other tips for organising a school author visit?
My question wasn’t answered!
Please use the contact form and Harriet’s events coordinator will get back to you as soon as possible.
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