About me, my books and my school visits (mygibbo@gmail.com)

To book a school visit email mygibbo@gmail.com

Alan Gibbons has been writing children’s books for 23 years. He is the winner of the Blue Peter Book Award 2000 ‘The book I couldn’t put down’ for his best-selling book Shadow of the Minotaur. He was a judge of the 2001 Awards.

He has also been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal in 2001 and 2003 and
has won the Leicester Book of the Year Award, Leicester Junior School Book Award, Hackney Short Novel Award, the Angus Book Award, the Catalyst Book Award, the Salford Librarians Special Award, the Birmingham Chills Award, Salford KS4 Award and the Stockport Book Award. He has twice been shortlisted for the Booktrust Teenage Book Prize. His books have been published in Japanese, German, Italian, French, Thai, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Swedish and other languages.

(The Dutch edition of one of my football books).

Alan taught for eighteen years, working with KS1, KS2 and KS3. He has made numerous visits to schools and libraries, colleges and education conferences. He is a popular speaker at the Edinburgh Festival, the London Book Fair, the Northern Children’s Book Festival, the Hay-on-Wye Festival, the Cheltenham Festival and many others.

Pupils’ achievement is very good. This is due to the effective deployment of the talented Author in Residence, and the focused teaching of skills in dedicated writing lessons.

Ofsted Report on one of Alan’s schools

Alan has also appeared on the BBC Education programme Writer’s Block, the Blue Peter Book Awards, Radio 4’s Front Row, The Jeremy Vine Show, Simon Mayo’s programme, The World Tonight, BBC 24, Channel Four News and The Message programme. He is a regular contributor to TES, Junior Education, Carousel, Books for Keeps, The Teacher and other journals. Alan has written an occasional column for the Liverpool Echo. One of his stories was serialised in English Street, a supplement of the Hong Kong Economic Times. Alan is an Honorary fellow of the Librarians’ professional body CILIP.

Alan is a full time writer and independent educational consultant. He has
featured in the Book Trust’s Writing Together Initiative. In addition to
visiting 150 schools a year across the UK, Alan has spoken in the Channel
Islands, Spain, France, Cyprus, Switzerland, China, Thailand, Qatar, Norway, Ireland both North and South, Brazil, Bahrain, Malawi, Sudan, Kenya, Canada, Brunei and Holland.

There is a trailer for Alan’s latest book An Act of Love here:



To see Alan at work go to:


Or watch him on You Tube:


Alan is editor of Harper Collins Read On series for reluctant readers:


This trailer was made by a Canadian school student about Alan’s book Scared to Death:



Top author shares school’s book celebrations

(Me with a super lambanana at Blueberry Park school in Liverpool)

Getting the most out of the visit


*Alan Gibbons’ book The Dying Photo has been selected for the 2010-11 Year 7 Booked Up list.

*Alan Gibbons is a recommended author on the English KS3 list.

*Alan Gibbons is a recommended author on the SLA list of books for boys,

*Alan Gibbons has won a Blue Peter book award and six other awards and has twice been shortlisted for the Carnegie and Booktrust Teenage Prizes. His other shortlistings are too numerous to mention.

*Alan Gibbons has been author in residence in Knowsley, Hong Kong, Zurich, Wrexham, Stavanger, Surrey and Warrington, among others.

*Alan Gibbons has been an author in residence at the National Gallery.

*Alan Gibbons has had poetry on display at the National Football Museum.

*Alan Gibbons has visited many International Schools. These include establishments in China, Brazil, Norway, Bahrain, Spain, France and Cyprus, Kenya, Malawi, Thailand, France Brunei and many others.

*Alan Gibbons has teaching experience of Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 (ages 4-16) and has worked as a writer with Sixth Form, university students and teachers.


You are booking Alan Gibbons. How do you make the most out of the visit?


Clear objectives

Decide what your priorities are. Access to all is a good principle but it might not be possible to involve every child in the course of a single day. Success is all about priorities. Do you want Alan to work with the less able? If so, how much support will they need? Maybe it is better to concentrate on the gifted and talented or particular classes you have targeted, of mixed ability perhaps. Maybe one of Alan’s books is their class reader. Children who read for pleasure clearly tend to get more out of an author visit. Which genres do you want Alan to cover? Draw up a timetable that meets your needs. No two schools are the same.

What does Alan do?

Alan has three kinds of activity:

*Author talk. This involves Alan giving a 35-40 minute talk about his work, how he got started, themes, etc. There is no need for any equipment, though it might be an idea to have a laptop and projector in the hall to show Alan’s Blog and website. This activity is a session with plenty of anecdotes. There is then time for a 10-20 minute question and answer session and, if possible, book-signing. Total duration: 50-60 minutes. Obviously, it helps if the youngsters have read something by him and if there has been some discussion of the kind of issues they would like to discuss.

*Writing workshop

Alan has a bank of writing activities for KS1, 2 and 3. He will work on fiction, non-fiction or poetry. Some examples:

*A ghost story

*An adventure story

*A fantasy story

*A science fiction story

*Writing instructions


*Newspaper reports

*List poems

*Nature poetry

Alan looks at various features of text. In fiction this might be narrative tension, dialogue, description, characterisation or internal monologue. In poetry it might be line length, rhyme, assonance or rhythm. In non-fiction it might be addressing the reader directly, organising material, bullet pointing, etc. Sessions are usually 50 or 60 minutes but can be longer, particularly with more able pupils. Alan will tailor sessions to the particular needs of the group. There should always be a member of staff present. Amazingly, in spite of the current climate of strong attention to child protection, there are still one or two schools left who will leave a visitor to their own devices.

This works best with a laptop and projector, using Word, so Alan can model text to help the pupils develop their writing. Alan will publish some of the best work on his Blog:


You will find lots of examples on the Blog from the UK and overseas.

Teach Me textbooks

There are three textbooks to accompany and follow up Alan’s work with the youngsters. These feature an overview of the ‘scaffolding’ technique that underpins the books, diagrams, step-by-step instructions and samples of children’s work and are useful for follow up.

Order from:

Teach me to write fiction (Nash Pollock Publishers)

ISBN 1 898255 45 8. £12.99.

Teach me to write poetry (Nash Pollock Publishers)

ISBN 1 898255 46. £12.99.

Teach me to write non fiction (Nash Pollock Publishers)

ISBN 1 898255 47 4. £12.99.

Orders should be placed with:

Nash Pollock

PO Box 150



CW7 3WA.

Tel: 01606 836699

Fax: 01606 836655


Alan has led teacher-training sessions all over the UK, Africa, South America, Europe and the Far East, including the Times Educational Supplement conferences, countywide NLS training, Learning Works, YPO, Renaissance Learning, Collective Learning and the Writing Together conferences.

He leads sessions on:

*The literate classroom

*The trouble with boys

*Writing across the curriculum


What will it cost?

Alan’s charges are:

£500 a day plus VAT

£600 a day plus VAT if he has to stay overnight

Half day:

£300 plus VAT

£400 plus VAT if he has to stay overnight

Alan travels from home to Lancashire, Merseyside, Manchester, Cheshire, southern Cumbria, Flintshire and Denbighshire and does not require accommodation. Further afield, he will usually have to stay overnight and incur hotel costs.

If Alan is booked for a cluster of schools, staying in an area for more than one day, he will give a discount.

Alan is VAT registered.

International Schools

Given travel costs to destinations overseas, Alan is open to negotiation over fees in International Schools.

What can be done in advance of the visit?

*Introduce the pupils to Alan’s books.

*Discuss what kind of questions they would like to ask.

*Surf Alan’s website and Blog. Get in touch with him before the visit:





It is very frustrating for all concerned when youngsters traipse into the hall asking: “What are we here for and who’s that?

*Contact the press. It raises the profile of the school or library service.




Book-ownership is an important aspect of literacy. Organising an author visit without arranging book sales is only exploiting a small part of the opportunities it offers. Alan usually provides his own books and will provide you with materials to advertise the availability of books to purchase.

You can also order Alan’s books from your local provider or ask Waterstones, Peter’s, Askew’s and the many good quality independent bookshops (that urgently need support to survive and give an independent voice in the market) are usually helpful. Alan’s supplier is:


01235 827702

Alan will sign any copies sold. Alan also has a stock of adhesive book plates. If schools order after the event, he will post signed bookplates for readers.

It helps to have a rough idea of the number of books needed and to give somebody the job of collecting the money on the day so Alan can concentrate on signing and talking to the pupils.

It works best if the pupils are told well in advance that they need to bring money, then get a reminder the day before. Email Alan for templates of flyers: aagibbons@blueyonder.co.uk

A full list of Alan’s books, indicating rough age ranges, is on his website:


You will have to check whether some of the books published in the early Nineties, are still in print. The first book of the Hell’s Underground series, Scared to Death is available as are the sequels The Demon Assassin, Renegade and Witch Breed. His latest book An Act of Love was nominated for the Carnegie Medal.

Autographs are OK so long as it is youngsters with autograph books. Signing 200 scraps of paper doesn’t add much to the literacy experience and uses up time which could be more usefully employed. It also stops Alan getting any lunch!


Don’t forget the little details:

*Send directions a few days in advance. Alan’s car has satellite navigation so a postal address is usually enough. It does help to mention any particular difficulties of access e.g. a hidden turning or an entrance, which doesn’t match the postal address of the venue. What’s more, some bigger cities and towns have several roads with the same name. It helps to identify which one.

*Organise some lunch. Writers do eat even if it is only to chew the linoleum in their garret. Alan’s only dietary need is to avoid mayonnaise, Branston or Piccalilli in sandwiches! Long live the great British butty, not some freakish concoction slathered in gunk.

*Ensure sufficient staff are present. A handful of authors have been left alone with pupils. This is highly unprofessional. Teachers shouldn’t mark books during sessions. It sends a very poor message to the children. It is the sign of a good school that staff join in the activities rather than looking on in a detached manner. A reading child is a successful child and this is the National Year of Reading.

*Let Alan know when the cheque will be sent. Will it be ready on the day or is it going through the local authority? Is there an order number to be put on the invoice? Payment on the day is obviously preferable. Some LEAs are appallingly slow and can cause cash-flow problems. Writers have to answer to the VAT man! Easily the worst part of a self-employed author’s life is chasing late payments so please explain what is happening with payment before he has to enquire. Nobody likes to ask about money. Remember poor Andre Previn begging for payment on Morecambe and Wise!

*Have the kettle on. After a long drive, a nice cup of tea ensures an alert and contented writer. 

Publicity materials

Posters and show cards are available. Contact Orion Children’s Books.


When drawing up a timetable keep in mind that Alan will sometimes have a long drive home after the day in school. He will always arrive early and is proud of the fact that he has never been late since becoming a published writer in 1990. He has only ever postponed a visit due to family bereavements or serious illness. He takes the responsibility of providing a service seriously. If it is possible for him to get away before the end of the school day to beat the motorway jams, particularly in the congested South East, it would be appreciated. Being gridlocked on the M25 or M6 during the rush hour is hardly the most inspiring way to end a good day.


Alan is very accessible. If you have queries don’t hesitate to get in touch. Contact Alan as follows:

aagibbons@blueyonder.co.uk or mygibbo@gmail.com

Alan’s website is:


This contains book lists, interviews, an autobiography and a career resume.

His blog is:


A good follow up to the visit is to post children’s work, sent directly to the blog, or sent as an attachment through my website. It gives them an audience to showcase their talents.

If you want to see what can be done, go on to the Blog of Sudley Junior School in Liverpool:




Alan was a classroom teacher for eighteen years. Eleven years were with KS1, four years with KS2 and three years with KS3. He has an enhanced CRB certificate (disclosure number: 001066952748) and has indemnity insurance to the value of five million pounds. He is registered with the General Teaching Council and a member of the Society of Authors, the National Association of Writers in Education and the National Union of Teachers.

That doesn’t mean, because he has a teaching qualification, he should be used as glorified supply cover and left alone with 300 youngsters in the hall. (It has happened!)


Photographs and video: Alan has no objection. Why not post the photos on his Blog to raise the profile of the visit.


Here’s looking forward to a good day!




53 thoughts on “About me, my books and my school visits (mygibbo@gmail.com)

  1. Pingback: Bookings open for next academic year | Alan Gibbons' Diary

  2. Pingback: Alan Gibbons’ latest news | Alan Gibbons' Diary

Leave a Reply

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