The program works as follows:
The teacher and Behind the Book (BtheB) create a program best suited to the needs of the classroom. We always meet with the administration before planning programs for the school year, and we work with every participating teacher to choose authors whose books reflect the their students’ interests and match their students’ capabilities, as well as fit curriculum needs.
This is a joint venture and you can expect the same high level of commitment and the same high quality of work from us as we expect from you. The mutual set of requirements will ensure creative, engaging content and successful programming for teachers, students, authors, and BtheB alike. They also make our programs viable and fundable, which is the key to our coming back to your classroom again and again to get kids excited about reading.
We charge $250 per author/illustrator visit, a small portion of the cost of the program. We do have a fee scale.
For all participating schools
1. B the B works with each classroom a minimum of three times within the school year.
2. Once an author has been chosen, we set up a schedule that includes:
A delivery date for the books
A date and time for the visit(s)
We take into account the amount of time needed for the students to read and discuss the book before the first visit.
3. We give books to every student in the class and the teacher to keep as their own –not for them to give to the school or classroom libraries. B the B separately donates books to the school library. Authors usually autograph the books.
4. We require that the work done with Behind the Book, including the reading of the book, classroom participation, writing, and art be evaluated or graded just as other student work
is evaluated or graded.
5. We also require that all participants complete at least one written assignment, either in a collaborative classroom project or individually.
6. B the B requires access to the student work once completed for review and copying. We use the work as examples for funders to see what students accomplish in our programs. Students’ original work will be returned.
7. Our programs occur during school hours, and last about an hour-and-a-half each – or the equivalent of two periods in many schools.
8. We work in individual classrooms only.
We have found that there is a bigger impact on the students when the author is in the classroom rather than in an assembly setting. Keeping the setting intimate and familiar contributes to our success.
To facilitate teachers meeting core curriculum requirements, we design our programs to meet New York State Learning Standards.
Before the first visit, we send the teacher and principal a contract stipulating that they will adhere to the program requirements.
We give the teacher a release form that a student’s guardian must complete and return to us before the first author visit.
We also give the teacher a baseline quantitative evaluation that each student must complete and return to us before the first author visit.
At the completion of the program, we give qualitative and quantitative evaluations to the students, which we require be completed and returned to us.
We also ask for feedback from the teacher.
Examples of what we do in schools
In elementary schools, we use arts-in-education workshops. All workshops include an art project incorporating writing that the classroom completes collaboratively or each student individually creates. There are three to six visits in a workshop, visits are generally spaced within a week or two of each other, a curriculum and lesson plans are provided, and students receive at least two books each. In grades three and four, for example, we often do an illustrated book workshop in which students create a book, from writing an original story and illustrating it to learning how a book is assembled, including its title and cover pages, copyright, etc. Students work with an author in mini writing workshops, and learn techniques of illustration from a children’s book illustrator. Authors and illustrators who have participated in elementary schools include Colin Bootman, Mo Willems, Brian Pinkney, Amy Hest, Marthe Jocelyn, Tony Medina, and Kim Mak.
In middle schools, we work with the teacher to support a theme or genre of study, either in a project-based workshop or a series of linked author visits. For example, working with a New York Times journalist, students participate in a school newspaper workshop. There are four visits in the workshop, a curriculum and lesson plans are provided, and students receive one book. Some of the authors who have worked in BtheB programs in middle schools include Jacqueline Woodson, Patricia McCormick, Tony Medina, Hope Anita Smith, and Alex Simmons.
In high schools, we also work with the teacher to support a theme or genre of study, generally through linked author visits. Some of the authors who have done high school visits include Rita Williams-Garcia, Willie Perdomo, Ernesto Quinonez, Francine Prose, Coe Booth, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Nelly Rosario, E.R. Frank, Jonathan Lethem, Martha Southgate, Alison Bechdel, James Traub, and Colson Whitehead.