Austin SCBWI’s Mark Mitchell on school visits

February’s monthly meeting of the Austin chapter of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators)highlighted author/illustrator Mark G. Mitchell as guest speaker. See Mark’s website at for more information about his school visits. Be sure to check out his nonfiction books, Raising LaBelle (Eakin 2002-Spur Award winner and U.S. Maritime Literature Award winner.) Seeing Stars: McDonald Observatory: Its Science and Astronomers (Eakin 2002.) And The Mustang Professor: The Story of J. Frank Dobie(Eakin 1993.)

Mark talked primarily about the profit, pleasure, and potential pitfalls of author school visits. He offered practical advice about material and equipment preparation, marketing, aligning one’s presentation to the TEKS-TAKS curriculum, and customizing style, tone, and length for specific grade levels. In genuine Mark Mitchell style, his presentation was sprinkled with enough humor to interrupt audience note-taking with giggles. Many of us who share the same writing community think he should open his own one man comedy show. Testament to the fact that this author/illustrator is sure to engage kids with his wit.

So why do authors hire themselves out as guest speakers at schools? Here are a few of the many reasons; 1.) An extra income source for the most underpaid creative artists who just happen to write for the most important people on the planet- children. 2.) There’s an obvious marketing advantage to getting your books in front of the intended audience. 3.) For the pure pleasure of making a lasting positive impression on children. 4.) To inspire children with their own writing and to encourage a sense of curiosity.

And what do Austin SCBWI members do after a great monthly meeting? We go out for lunch afterward to talk about…what else…writing for children.

If you’re really curious now, you might pop over to Verla Kay’s Feb. 19th blog post about school visits as well.

Quote for the Day: What sculpture is to a block of marble, eduction is to the soul.”—Joseph Addison (17-672-1719) English essayist

4 Responses to “Austin SCBWI’s Mark Mitchell on school visits”

  1. Alison

    Wow, you got that post up fast! With photos, no less! I am similarly energized… but sorry I didn’t get much chance to talk to you today!

  2. carmenoliver

    Awesome! You captured Mark’s je ne sais quoi personality with flair. I had a fantastic time at lunch, too. I only wish there’d been more time. I missed chatting with so many friends that I haven’t seen in awhile. BTW, I love having the meetings at BookPeople!

  3. Donna

    Thank you friends.

    I came home to an empty house after the meeting, so I quickly took advantage of the opportunity to post the pics.

    I really do love our Austin SCBWI group.