Tights, Flu-jabs and Paper plates - All part of enjoyable school-visits

Chitra Soundar
Jane Clarke

Going back to school? It can be a scary place especially if you are going to meet adorable cherubs from Reception to the “I’m almost a grownup” Year 5, 6 with all their questions and inquisitiveness - all in one day.

The masterclass was over-subscribed and for good reason. Jane Clarke transported us into primary schools with suitcases full of props, books and bookmarks. Jane was generous with her advice covering both practical and professional aspects of primary school visits.

Thanks to Jane - now we know we should wear tights when going into Reception and Year 1 classes - if we don’t want food, saliva and snot smeared. (Of course, if you are not of the female gender, replace tights with trousers, tights might be a bit too daring.)

Jane’s advice about pre-ordering school lunches, pre-signing bookmarks and checking with the teacher before using a chair in the teacher’s lounge were all gratefully received.

Interesting and fun school visits can create buzz for the current book and new readers for the next one.

When a book is published, for an author sometimes it feels like the end of the journey. But the book has just started its life. With marketing budgets shrinking for most of us, authors and illustrators need to get out there to spread the word. Interesting and fun school visits can create buzz for the current book and new readers for the next one. For many authors and illustrators this could be another source of income.

As a kid I was terrified of standing in front of assemblies. Now would I be okay doing that in front of a whole school I’ve never met before? “Do what you are comfortable with,” was Jane’s advice. Whether you are doing a lot of class-room sessions or doing assemblies, preparation is key. We came away with wonderful tips for prep before the visit and follow-ups after the visits.

We also had a great time sharing stories from the participants - Cath Howe, Alice Hemming, Anita Loughery, Mike Brownlow, Nick Cross and a number of others shared their experiences during school visits - mystery sacks to match your book, masks for characters, arts and crafts activities to make your own robots. What an abundance of ideas from SCBWI members.

Jane told us - leave something with the kids to remember the visit. And just like in school visits, she gave us each one of those little handmade books that we could fill with stories and pictures.

Next time Jane comes to visit your local SCBWI region with her masterclass, don’t miss it. Going back to school could be fun for you and the kids.

Chitra has published over 20 books in Singapore, UK, USA and India. She loves writing picture books and retelling folktales. She's also working on fiction for 7+ . Chitra is a member of the Words & Pictures' editorial team, managing The Slush Pile Challenge.


  1. Thanks for a great review of Jane's informative Masterclass

  2. A great write up, Chitra, of a great event! Thanks to Jane who was very informative and made the session really enjoyable and to everyone who shared their experiences. And thank you Cath Jones for organising it all!


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