Recently, Kimberly White and I gave a presentation at the New England Library Association conference about our work with Skyping authors. You can view our Prezi. Basically, we wanted to make our 4th and 5th grade book club better, cooler, and use more technology.
Our first Skype session was actually with an illustrator – M. Sarah Klise. She illustrated the 43 Old Cemetery Road series. We used the first book, Dying to Meet You, in our book club at the library and also at the satellite program at the elementary schools. Each time we used this book, everyone loved it. We had some fun activities, great discussions, and showed this video about the two sisters. It worked perfectly.
We paid a small fee ($100/30 minutes session and paid for 2 sessions). Sarah showed us art work, talked about her process, and talked about book covers. She shared illustrations in progress, various stages of her work, and rejected illustrations. We bused in 50 kids for each session and had the best time. Skyping with an illustrator is different, but worth it.
To find an author willing to Skype – try either of these sites. Kate Messner (who’s done a lot of research about Skyping and is an author herself) or this one where you search by last name. If you don’t find a particular author in either place, check their webpage or contact them to inquire. Also, don’t forget about the list of YA authors by state on YALSA’s wiki.
Most authors will do a short session to classrooms or book clubs for free. It’s usually 10-20 minutes. If you’re looking for something more in depth, there’s usually a cost involved. Skyping with an author can be just like a class or library visit, without paying for the speaker’s travel costs. Often they have set presentations, but some simply open things up for questions-and-answers. Others combine the two approaches. Check with your author beforehand to make sure you both know the logistics of the day.
While gearing up for the presentation, Kimberly and I had a great brainstorming session on who else to Skype, if the author you want is busy or you’re looking for a different, non-authorial perspective. We came up with a few examples to get the ball rolling:
Gallagher Girls: Someone from the CIA or Spy Museum
Contaminated: A epidemiologist or someone from the CDC
Princess Diaries: Etiquette Expert
Want to Go Private?: FBI
Genius Files: Any novelty museum
Have you had a great Skype experience? Let us know in the comments