The K-12 Library Connection: Connecting with Colorado Creatives

The Power of Author and Illustrator Visits in Schools

Connecting with Colorado Creatives

What are the benefits of author and illustrator school visits?

Spark a love of reading

Meeting the real, live human who created the artwork or words on the page of a book brings books to life and generates instant excitement about reading! The author or illustrator can share their journey to writing or illustrating books, explain their creative process, and engage students in conversation about their lives as readers.

According to 2019 data gathered as part of the United Kingdom study Writer Visits and Children’s and Young People’s Literacy Engagement, students who had had an author visit that academic year:

  • Were twice as likely to read above the expected level for their age (31% vs 17%)
  • Were more likely to enjoy reading (68% vs 47%) and writing (44% vs 32%)
  • Were more likely to be highly confident in their reading (37% vs 25%) and writing (22% vs 17%)

Inspire student writers and artists

Listening to authors and illustrators share how they develop new ideas and engage in the same creative process as students–drafting, revising, receiving critical feedback and revising some more– can ignite students’ imaginations and encourage them to persevere. Students are often surprised to learn that authors’ and illustrators’ early works are frequently rejected by publishers and their determination to keep creating can serve as a powerful example of practicing a growth mindset.

Promote diversity and inclusion

All children and teens should see themselves in the pages of a book. And all children and teens should see themselves in the creators of books. Just as culturally responsive and inclusive titles positively impact students’ feelings of belonging and expand students’ understanding of their world, so do authors and illustrators who represent identities and lived experiences that have been historically underrepresented and misrepresented by the publishing industry. The opportunity for a student to meet a creative that shares their identity can inspire new dreams.

Planning an author or illustrator visit

Ready to plan an author or illustrator visit? Check out the comprehensive guidance provided by Donna Janell Bowman in her Step-by-Step Guide to Organizing an Author Visit.

And here are some tips for planning a successful visit:

  • Contact local bookstores for support– they likely have connections to lots of authors and illustrators and are often willing to pay the visit fee in exchange for the opportunity to sell copies of the book to your school community.
  • Use TeachingBooks for learning resources about the author or illustrator (Meet-the-Author audio excerpts, name pronunciations, author interviews, and more).
  • Send thank you notes from staff and students– the author and illustrators will love the feedback!

Resources for Connecting with Colorado Creatives

CALMA (Colorado Alliance of Latino Mentors and Authors)

Colorado Authors League (includes illustrators)

Colorado Book Award winners

The Society of Children’s Book Writers (SCBWI) Rocky Mountain Chapter

Jeffrey Bennett: science writer for youth and adults

Jennifer Chambliss Bertman: children’s and middle grade fiction author

R. Alan Brooks: graphic novel author and professor

Olivia Chadha: middle grade, YA and adult author

Samantha Cohoe: YA author

Kellye Crocker: middle grade author, reporter, editor, creative writing teacher

Alice Feagan: children’s author and illustrator

Megan E. Freeman: middle grade author and poet

Angela Hawkins: children’s illustrator

Julie Hedlund: picture book author

Meg Long: YA author

Nicole Magistro: children’s book author

Malia Maunakea: middle grade and YA fiction author

Sandhya Menon: YA fiction author

Rich Moyer: children’s cartoonist and animator

Olivia Obtahi: children’s, middle grade, and YA fiction author

Nancy Oswald: children’s historical fiction and nonfiction author

Jean Reidy: children’s author

Jessica Speer: middle grade and YA nonfiction author

J.E. Thomas: middle grade and YA fiction author

Julia E. Torres: writer, teacher/activist, librarian

Roxanne Troup: children’s author

Len Vlahos: YA author

Lily Williams: children’s and middle grade author and illustrator

Nyasha Williams: author, activist, creative events and workshops coordinator

Kaz Windness: children’s author and illustrator

Stan Yan: children’s and middle grade writer and illustrator

Do you know of additional Colorado creatives to recommend? Please email Suzi Tonini at

Sign Up for CSL News You Can Use

Would you like to receive weekly updates of Colorado school library events, professional learning, grants and more? Subscribe here to CSL News You Can Use.

Professional Learning, Nov 2023

Click here to view program abstracts and registration/login information. Thank you to the Wyoming State Library for curating many of these opportunities! Webinars and online coursed are free unless otherwise noted ($). Can’t attend the live event? Most webinars provide recording links to registered participants.

11/2/23 (2-3 pm MST) Breaking Beats and Myths: Exploring Hip-Hop Pedagogy to Confront Misinformation (edWeb) 

11/7/23 (3-4 pm MST) Share or Beware, The STEM Edition: Sorting Science Fact from Fiction (edWeb) 

11/8/23 (4-5:30 pm MST) Bridge the Gap: Supporting Postsecondary Academic Success Through Libraries

11/9/23 (8 am-3 pm MST) LibraryCon Live! 2023 (Library Journal)

11/9/23 (11:15 am -11:45 am MST) Make Your Voice Count: Learning About the First Amendment (Grades K–2) (National Archives) 

11/9/23 (9:15 am -9:45 am MST) The First Amendment: Five Rights in One (Grades 3-5) (National Archives) 

11/9/23 (3-4 pm MST) 4th Annual Digital Learning App Smash for Future Ready Librarians® (All4Ed/Future Ready Librarians) 

11/13/23, 2023 (12-1 pm MST) New and Notable Novels in Verse from Random House Children’s Books