I’m proud to be Patron of Reading at West Earlham Infant and Nursery in Norwich
Though my true title in school is ... Celebrity Author!
It certainly helps the children remember my name and welcome me back each visit.
My latest book is dedicated to the children and staff at West Earlham Infants and Nursery. Here I am giving them a pre-publication copy, hot off the press.
YES! I tend to visit West Earlham Infants and Nursery just once a year now, often to join them for their World Book Day celebrations. So I could easily take on another school or even several.
Originally, it was advised that a school links with a Patron exclusively, and this would seem to be the way to go if there is an intense relationship involving, for instance, Author Visits to the school every half term.
However, in some cases a school wants to use the Patron of Reading in a less intensive way, which might only involve a visit once a year.
Personally, I would relish also being Patron of a Junior or Middle School, since at my current school, I only get to be Patron to the infants. I regularly work with older children, and so have more to offer.
But it all depends on what the school wants, and what I can to offer in terms of my time commitment and expertise.
Authors who visit a lot of schools learn things. We see schools that know it all, and would seem to need nothing more. (And yet these are the schools that book authors the most... funny that!) Visiting these schools is great, because we learn what strategies the most highly successful schools are using to keep their literacy marks sky high.
We also get to see schools struggling to implement reading strategies that work for them - though they’ll be trying like crazy to find out what will work for their students - and they’ll have brought an author in to see if that has an effect. (It does.)
Authors who’ve put themselves forward to be Patrons of Reading are generally the kind of author that has an interest - possibly even a mission - in encouraging children to read for pleasure, become lifelong readers, and gain all the benefits that reading brings to life in school and beyond.
Then... it so happens... those author ’Patrons’ start going to ’Reading for Pleasure’ conferences to find out things to use in their ’Patron’ schools. And we congregate at Patron of Reading conferences (we’ve just had our second one, in London) to swap ideas, and hear directly from literacy experts. All of us - the authors, the experts - swap emails and ’band up’ for the same cause... children’s authors are nearly always empathetic and encouraging to each other, a quite delightful and important fact.
In reality though, a Patron alone can’t make things happen. The plain fact is that, in this relationship, THE SCHOOL LEADS. The school knows what they want, and the Patron becomes a partner to it, quite likely putting lots of ideas on the table. But the school has to lead, and commit time, energy and resource.
It’s simply whatever the school and author decide it should be, to get the best out of the relationship. It’s an Author in Residence and more - but what ’more’ means is for the school to decide.
For more info, see the Patron of Reading website.