Last month my 9-12 year old book club kids had a special treat: the author of the book they read offered to speak with them via Skype! I was very excited to give my book clubbers this opportunity. The Skype session took up most of our meeting, so instead of describing what we did, I will offer some author Skype tips:
- Test all equipment and have a backup plan. I made sure the computer had completed any necessary updates and knew how to contact the author via other means besides Skype in case Skype decided not to cooperate (Gmail offers a video chat option, which is good for this kind of emergency).
- Let the kids know in advance. Not only did this ensure that my kids all came to book club on time, but they also had the opportunity to prepare some questions to ask. I had a list of standard questions that I was willing to let them borrow, if needed, but most of them had prepared their questions when they read the book.
- Use a "look here" note. Kids might be used to using technology, but they are still tempted to look at a screen instead of at a camera when video chatting. I put a sticky note next to the laptop's camera that said "Look here" so they would have a reminder to look at the camera, not at the screen.
- Prepare a thank-you note. I had a thank-you note ready to go so the kids could sign it after the chat was over. The author was grateful to get the note, and the kids were able to practice gratitude.
Overall, our Skype session went very well. The kids asked some good questions and got some neat information from the author, and I now have a list of all the other authors they would like me to contact for future Skype sessions. This isn't something I can do for every single book club meeting, but it definitely was worth it for an occasional treat.