After having given much effort and talent to creating their books, authors and illustrators naturally want to do all they can to promote them, and as members of the Guild they have found that group promotion can be enjoyable as well as rewarding. The Guild has been equally useful to schools, libraries, embassies, and other organizations which have benefitted by our members' appearances at book fairs and exhibits of all kinds. The PEN Faulkner sponsorship of a December children's book lecture was one example, for which Phyllis Naylor was asked to arrange an accompanying sale of books in 1983 and 1984. These events were held in the handsome great hall of the Folger Library.

The work of our member illustrators has decorated many a gallery, hall, classroom, and library; and especially effective were the art exhibits at the Guild's Book Week Luncheons. Another book promotion was the Guild's collection of book jackets which was used for displays at Book Week Luncheons. During the 1970s and early 1980s members' books were promoted by the "Yellow Box Traveling Exhibit." The idea was Patricia Markun's, and Katherine Kahn designed yellow cartons for carrying, as well as displaying, the collection. It was offered to schools, libraries, and children's literature classes; and it served its purpose until storage and transportation became too difficult to manage, due to the increasing number of books in the collection.

Speakers Bureau: It almost goes without saying that the best promotion of reading occurs when creators of children's books and children meet - especially when the creators enjoy talking to young people and know how to capture their interest. Even nonreaders have been known to turn off the TV and start reading after attending stimulating book talks. The Guild's Speakers Bureau has been supplying the needs of librarians, teachers, and PTA members since its earliest days. At first there was only an informal network of recommendations, but we read in the minutes of a 1955 executive committee meeting, "a decision was made to limit the activities of the Speakers Bureau to groups of 100 or more, located within one hour's drive from the center of town." Here we see that this Guild service had already become a wide-reaching one.

The appointment of a chairman in charge of the Speakers Bureau seems to have been rather sporadic at first, and often as not the Guild president handled requests for authors' and illustrators' appearances. In the 1960s two questionnaires were prepared, one for Guild members and the other for groups needing speakers, to facilitate the service. These indicate that the Guild was by then recommending speakers for adult groups as well as for children. It is rather surprising to note that there is no mention of fees in either questionnaire of that time. The pleasure of speaking, plus the possible sales of their work, seem to have been recompense enough in those days. Free, too, were our members' talks at The Washington Post's city-wide book fairs held from 1950 to 1974 where books were not on sale. However, the fun enjoyed by all concerned has never been forgotten, and the attention of the huge audiences was far more valuable than honorariums would have been.

Speakers Bureau chairmen say they enjoy the many hours they give in telephone conversations with people seeking speakers. Here are the words of a recent chairman: "It really gives one a great feeling of satisfaction when the right people have been matched up, and it is wonderful to be the means of children discovering that there is a real live person behind every book they are reading."

Continue to VIII. An Award for Nonfiction



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