At the beginning of the year, I was fortunate to receive an email from a book publicist working for Ellen Hopkins. She was looking for librarians who hosted book clubs who would be interested in hosting a Skype session with Ellen. The only requirement, or fee, would be that the book club would have to show proof that they had purchased 10 copies of Ellen's newest book, Rumble. The copies were purchased, a copy of the receipt was emailed, and the date was set for January 8th, after school.
Ten copies of a book seems like a lot for a library to purchase, but I had no qualms about buying that many copies of any Ellen Hopkins book. Her books fly off of my high school library shelves. Rumble was extremely well-received by the students, they discussed the book frequently and I couldn't wait to see what questions they came up with for Ellen.
I held the event after school on a Thursday from 3 to 5. We were to Skype with Ms. Hopkins from 3-3:30, then eat pizza (food is always essential for book club!) and discuss our conversation with the author and Rumble.
The students were star-struck. Ellen was captivating. I had suggested questions written out on cards in case any of the students wanted to talk to the author but couldn't come up with something to ask her, but the students never needed any suggestions. They came up with a variety of questions on their own--everything from specific things from her books, to how she writes, to questions about her personal life. I had one young lady who had read every one of Ellen's books--she was so excited that she was in tears!
Things that made this successful:
Planning: I had the Skype account set up ahead of time, the projector ready, and I tested everything before the event.
Food: Always an important element.
The appeal of the author: Ellen Hopkins is one author who is consistently popular year after year!
Things I would do differently next time:
I had each student approach my laptop so as they came up to ask questions. This created a lull between questions. Next time, I would like to set up a camera, elevated, so that the author could see the entire group of students.
This was one of my favorite events in the entire history of my career. The joy and excitement of these kids over the chance to talk to one of their favorite authors... that's the kind of thing that keeps me loving my job!
Post by Nicky