Skype virtual school visits

Skype sessions are a great way for me to read one of my books to students and answer some of their questions without me having to spend any time travelling - and they have a lot less impact on my carbon footprint than a regular school trip!

My school Skype sessions are completely FREE!

Schools can choose readings from the selection of books shown below. Click on a cover to find out more about a book. If there’s a book you’d particularly like me to read that isn’t shown below, I’d be happy to consider it.

Borks cover wanda wallaby Foxes
How the
Borks Became
An Adventure
in Evolution
The Princess
and the Pig
Here Be
Might Fly!
The Clockwork
The Silver
Serpent Cup
Cleopatra Bones
and the Golden
A Spot of
the Moon
A Present
for Rosy
Saves the World
The Emperor's
New Clones
Doohickey and
the Robot

I’m happy to Skype with any English-speaking school in Europe, the US or Canada, providing the session can be done between 9:00am and 5.00pm United Kingdom time on a Wednesday, subject to my availability. If you are not in the United Kingdom, you can use the international time converter here to convert from your local time to UK time.

A session usually lasts around 20 minutes. I have a minimum group size of 10 students for free Skype sessions but I have no maximum group size.

PLEASE NOTE: Skype sessions should not be recorded without my prior permission.

What I do in a Skype session

After saying hello to the class, I do a 5-10 minute reading (the whole of one of my picture books or an excerpt from one of my books for older readers) and then usually spend the remaining time answering the students' questions. However schools may wish to vary the format. Some schools have shown me short a performance or presentation inspired by one of my books. Others have presented the results of votes they'd had on my books, with individual students telling me about their favourite page in their favourite book. Whatever you choose to do, the direct interaction between author and readers will make the session a worthwhile experience.

Sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic

I'm taking Skype session bookings on the assumption that schools will be open. However, I accept that sessions may have to be cancelled at short notice in the current circumstances.

Zoom sessions: If you have students studying from home and would prefer to use Zoom rather than Skype to enable them to take part, please enter "Zoom" in the "Skypename" section of the request form. Please note that Zoom sessions need to be set-up and hosted by a member of school staff.



Skype sessions need to be booked at least 24 hours in advance. I offer one free session each week of UK term time. Current availability is shown below. The table is updated weekly in UK term time, with a new slot becoming available every week.

Date (Wednesday)
30 Sept
7 Oct
14 Oct
21-28 Oct
4 Nov
11 Nov
Unavailable Available Available Unavailable Available Available
This table is updated weekly in UK term time with a new slot becoming available every week.
Date (Wednesday)
18 Nov
25 Nov
2 Dec
9 Dec
16 Dec
23-30 Dec
Available Available
for The
Santa Trap
for The
Santa Trap
for The
Santa Trap

I accept repeat bookings, but individual schools are limited to one session per academic year. I reserve the right to cancel a booking in case of illness or to accommodate work commitments. In such cases I'll endeavour to give schools notice at the earliest opportunity and offer to reschedule at another date.

What you need for a Skype session

Technical Requirements

  • SOFTWARE: If you don’t already have it, you’ll need to install Skype on your computer and set up an account. You can download Skype for free here. Please note: you will need to use the separate Skype app rather than the "Skype for Business" web browser app as I have had connection problems using "Skype for Business."

  • WEBCAM / MICROPHONE: The webcam should be positioned as close as possible to the screen the students will be looking at, so that I can see the students' faces looking towards me. If you're using a separate microphone, this should be positioned so that I can hear the students clearly.

  • SCREEN: Ideally the computer should be connected to a large TV screen or white board projector, but as long as there is a screen of some sort that the students can see me on this is not essential. If you're using a projector in a brightly lit room, it's a good idea to turn off the lights or close the blinds near the screen or whiteboard so that the students can see me more clearly.

  • SPEAKERS: Sound is important! The students will need to be able to hear me clearly. Your computer’s built-in speakers may not be loud enough for my voice to carry to the back of the room, so you might need to use some louder, plug-in speakers or the TV’s speakers if you’re using a TV screen.

PLEASE NOTE: I don’t have time to offer technical assistance, so if you are new to Skype please make sure that you have Skype installed and you have familiarised yourself with how to use it by making some video calls BEFORE you book a virtual visit with me. If you are intending to use external sound and video and have not done this before, it’s a good idea to test these in advance too.


Other Requirements

  • At least one copy of the book I’m going to be reading: This is essential for picture books as half of their appeal comes from the illustrations, so I like to have someone beside the screen holding up the book and turning the pages so the students can see the pictures as I’m reading on screen.

  • Some questions prepared in advance: There will be time for a quick Q&A session after the reading. To get the most out of this, please make sure that the students have some questions prepared in advance.

  • A room full of enthusiastic students: Students will enjoy a Skype session much more if they are already familiar with my books and are anticipating the visit. Arrange for the library service to provide you with a selection of my books before the visit – or you might even buy a few. Set up a book display in your classroom. Feature the visit as an upcoming event in school newsletters and include the address of my web site. Click here to download a PDF virtual visit poster to print out and publicise the visit.

BOOK SALES: If you'd like to order copies of my books from a book shop to coincide with my virtual visit you can use this book list / order form to do so. I'm happy to send out signed book plates (shown opposite) for any books purchased in this way.

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