unexpected venues for children's book author visits
| |

Beyond the classroom: 8 unique venues for children’s book author visits

Children's book authors can reach more of their readers by exploring these 8 often overlooked venues for children's book author visits.

Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Associates links, which means if you click on them and make a purchase, I will receive a couple of pennies (at no extra charge to you).

children's book author Chelsea Tornetto

I hope this is the first of several guest posts by Chelsea Tornetto, a former teacher turned author, because there are so many ways she can help children’s book authors with her expertise. Chelsea’s first book, Conquering Content Vocabulary, published by Scholastic, is educational. Picture books are her passion now, though. She’s the author of Gardens Are For Growing and God Made You Too.  When Chelsea isn’t working on her own stories, she helps others write for children as a freelance editor and author coach for At Home Author. Find Chelsea on X/Twitter and her website.

Beyond the classroom: 8 unique venues for children’s book author visits

By Chelsea Tornetto

Children’s book authors often dream of being invited to a local school to read their book to a classroom full of wide-eyed elementary students.

Those enthusiastic young readers are the exact reason why children’s book authors like me decided to write for kids in the first place,

But as many of us quickly discover, school visits can be difficult to book.

Schools are closing doors on author visits

With shrinking budgets, growing pressure to squeeze in more curriculum, heightened safety rules and regulations, and increasing demands on teachers’ valuable planning time, many schools simply choose not to go to the trouble.

It’s a bummer!

After all, school visits can be a major source of income and publicity for children’s book authors.

But, luckily, they’re not the only way to get lots of little eyes on your book!

In fact, sometimes looking beyond schools and classrooms can lead to even more interesting – and potentially profitable – opportunities.  

8 unexpected venues for children’s book author visits

What are the best non-school options for children’s book author visits? Here are eight alternative venues you’ll want to explore locally and when you travel.

1. Libraries

I’m hoping this one doesn’t come as a surprise; we should all be reaching out to local libraries to carry our books.


But, while you’re at it, ask if they offer any children’s programming that can include guests. They may have a budget to bring in outside speakers.

If they don’t? They might still be willing to let you host an event and sell books to attendees.

This is particularly true in the summer, when most libraries offer more kids’ programming to help parents looking for something to keep the little ones busy.

2. Children’s museums

Children’s museums are designed to get kids interested in learning while still having fun, so children’s books are a great fit.

Pitch yourself and your book as a way for them to attract new guests, or show how your book could support one of their existing exhibits.

In addition, many children’s museums have gift shops that might stock your book, even after your event is over.

Gardens Are for Growing by Chelsea Tonetto

3. Conservation and nature centers

I live in Missouri, which has a robust conservation department that offers lots of programming for kids and families.

If your book has a connection to nature or the outdoors, contact your local conservation department or nature center and pitch yourself as a potential presenter or guest speaker. (Especially for those rainy days when their usual outdoor activities get canceled.)

4. Community centers and recreation departments

Many municipal governments provide camps, classes, or other special events for local families.

Study the programming guide from previous years to get an idea of what’s offered, then pitch yourself as a possible addition.

Could you teach a workshop on writing for kids? Set up as an author at a career day event? Lead an art activity at a “mommy and me” play day?

5. Festivals and fairs

Be careful with this one.

Not all festivals and fairs are created equal, and some just aren’t a good fit for children’s books. (Oktoberfest, for example, may have huge crowds, but kids aren’t always allowed, and parents have other things on their mind ….)

But, if there’s a popular farmer’s market, touch-a-truck event, or street art festival happening in your area, reach out and offer to present.

venues for children's book author visits 2
Author Shannon Anderson meets some new fans after presenting at the Portland Strawberry Festival.

6. Daycare centers

If your book is for younger children, daycare centers are good places to contact about author visits.

While they face many of the same funding challenges as schools, there’s usually less pressure to squeeze in curriculum, so they have more time for fun events.

It’s an especially good fit if your book explores a common early education topic such as the seasons, counting, or colors.

7. Alternative retail locations, including gift shops, toy stores, grocery stores, etc.

While bookstores get all the love from authors, I’ve actually had more success selling my books at non-book stores. There’s less competition.

Approach local shops your target audience frequents and ask about hosting a book event or even just stocking your books.

Authors in Grocery Stores will even help you arrange book signings in local chains in certain states.

8. Scout Troops, 4H clubs, Rotary clubs, etc.

When I was in 4H, our leaders had a guest speaker at every meeting to talk about something we were interested in.

Scout troops often do something similar.

Put yourself in the shoes of those group leaders and create a presentation that will help them out – and get you in.

alternative venues for children's book author visits 3
Be sure to right click and save, then share this image!

Tips for approaching non-school venues for children’s book author visits

Be thoughtful about how you’ll approach venues that are the best fit for your book and its audience.

Remember that when contacting any of these places about hosting an author event, it’s up to you to add value.

Offering to sit and read your book out loud isn’t going to cut it.

Pitch them on a presentation with a clear theme and focus. Customize your pitch to support what they and their patrons want and need. When you do that, they’re much more likely to say, “Yes!”

Be open-minded and creative

School visits may be the most popular way for children’s book authors to reach young readers. But they’re certainly not the only way!

School visits may be the most popular way for children’s book authors to reach young readers. But they’re certainly not the only way! ~ Chelsea TonettoClick to tweet

Anywhere parents, grandparents, and kids gather has potential for author presentations.

Look beyond schools and explore more venues for children’s book author visits. You never know where you might end up … and you might be quite pleased with the destination.

Do you have a question for Chelsea Tonetto about booking author visits? Please ask it in a comment.

Like what you’re reading? Get it delivered to your inbox every week by subscribing to the free Build Book Buzz newsletter. You’ll also get my free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” cheat sheet immediately!


  1. Great article! I agree that we need to think of any and all possible venues. Surprising things can happen! I reached out to a cafe and restaurant that I really enjoy, right next to each other. One is relatively new. The other reopened recently after a fire. I promoted the reading as a family and community-building event. Not only were they both enthusiastic, the local CBS affiliate (WBTV) came and did a segment on the evening news. 🙂

    1. I love this SO much, Michelle! Good for you! Do you have a link to the segment online? If so, please share it here so we can all see how cool you are!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *