Creative Writing Field Trips program badgeThere’s a lot to know about our Wordshops!

Check out the questions and answers below for more information.
Have a question that’s not answered here?
Just email [email protected]
or call 312-475-1355 x151!

General Logistics

What happens during a field trip?Every Wordshop is a little different, but they all have these great features in common.

1) Group reading, discussion, and activities.

2) Individual writing time with support from trained coaches.

3) Live performances by students (voluntary!).

4) A visit to the award-winning Open Books store, where each student chooses a free book to take home.

5) A published anthology of the students’ work, which we mail to you a few weeks after the trip is over.
Where do the field trips happen?At our flagship Open Books West Loop location, 651 W. Lake St. There is a 15-minute unloading zone directly outside our bookstore where the school buses can unload students. If this is full, you can also turn right onto Desplaines (a one-way headed South) to unload.
When do the field trips happen?Field trips are held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 10:00am-12:30pm. The instructional portion of the field trip is from 10:00am-12:00noon, and the bookstore visit runs from 12:00-12:30, unless you have made special arrangements with Open Books.

Please arrive no later than 10:00am. Buses should be ready to pick up your group no later than 12:35pm.

No refunds will be given for groups who arrive late, nor will the field trip time be extended.
Which grades are field trips appropriate for?Field trips are perfect for 3rd-12th grade students. Student groups for any given trip cannot span more than 3 grade levels. (For instance, we can take a group of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders for one trip, but NOT 6th, 8th, and 12th graders.)
How many students can attend a field trip?Groups must include at least 10 and no more than 70 students. We have two classrooms, and each classroom can accommodate up to 35 students.
Who runs the field trips? What qualifications do they have?Field trips are led by Open Books staff and specially trained Teaching Artists. Volunteer writing coaches, who sit at each table and work directly with students, are also a key part of the experience. We background-check and train all of our volunteer writing coaches, and brief them before each field trip on the content of the curriculum, special features of the class joining us, and best practices for working with students.
What do teachers and chaperones do during the field trip?During the field trip, please help us motivate and inspire your students by:

• Participating actively!

• Being available to address individual student concerns and assist with any behavioral issues that may arise.

• Keeping cell phones off and out of sight (we require this of students, too).

In preparation for the field trip, we ask teachers to fill out a class demographics form and provide a class roster with correct spellings of students’ full names. Open Books requires all visiting groups to secure at least two chaperones per class (including teachers and classroom aides).
How does the bookstore visit work?At 12:00noon, after the instructional period of the field trip, we lead the students across the hall to our bookstore. Each student is given a coupon good for one free used book worth $10 or less, which they can redeem at the cash wrap once they've picked a book to take home. Students, teachers, and chaperones are welcome to purchase additional books with their own money.
How does transportation work? Does Open Books offer bus scholarships?The visiting group must arrange transportation to and from Open Books. Unfortunately, we cannot offer transportation assistance or scholarships.
Can students eat lunch at Open Books? What about drinks?For a $25 clean-up fee, you can have your students eat lunch at Open Books. If you have opted to do so, lunch will occur during the 11:30-12:00 section of the workshop. We have two water fountains located just outside our classrooms.
When do students receive the printed anthologies of the class's work?After each field trip, Open Books types up and publishes your students’ work in customized booklets (one per student, plus extra for the teachers), and sends them back to your school. The period of time it takes to complete a set of booklets varies, but you can expect your booklets between 1-6 weeks after your trip is over. During the busiest times of the year, we run four field trips each week, which amounts to a mountain of booklets! We appreciate your patience. :)

Signing Up

How far in advance should I schedule my class's field trip?Open Books schedules field trips no fewer than 12 business days in advance. This is to allow for ample time to recruit volunteers, assign trip leaders, and prepare materials for your group. The earlier you submit a preliminary signup form, the better. Field trip dates can fill up rapidly, and you don’t want to miss out!
How does the signup process work?1. Fill out the signup form with basic information about your group and your top three preferred dates.

2. Open Books will contact you to confirm whether your selected date is available, and will place a temporary hold on the date.

3. Open Books will send you a program agreement and invoice. After reading them thoroughly, just sign and return them to us via fax or email to lock in your field trip date.

Payment, Cancellation, and Class Size Changes

How much do field trips cost?$8 per student. This price includes supplies, printed anthologies, and book coupons for each student. Adults (teachers and chaperones) get in for free, but they do not receive book coupons.

If students eat lunch at Open Books, a $25 group cleanup fee is added.
How can I pay for my class's field trip?Open Books accepts checks, CPS purchase orders (our vendor number is 63178), credit cards via PayPal, and money orders.
When is payment due?Payment is due at least 5 business days before your scheduled field trip. If we do not have a form of payment in hand by then, we will cancel your field trip.
What happens if my class size changes?The final student number is due five business days in advance of your field trip. Refunds are available only for student number changes made five business days in advance, and are not provided for students absent on the day of the field trip. If additional students are added to your group on the day of the field trip, payment for these additional students is due at that time. Please keep in mind that we can only accommodate up to 35 students in each of our two classrooms.
What is the cancellation policy?All cancellations must be made 5 business days in advance to receive a refund, regardless of any/all mitigating factors (including transportation issues, inclement weather, strikes, etc.).

Bookstore Visit

What happens during my class's visit to the Open Books store?At 12:00noon, after the instructional period of the field trip, we lead the students across the hall to our bookstore. Each student is given a coupon good for one free used book worth $10 or less, which they can redeem at the cash wrap once they've picked a book (any book!) to take home. Students, teachers, and chaperones are welcome to purchase additional books with their own money.
Any book? Really?Student coupons are only good for used books, valued at $10 or less. However, this includes 90% of the books we have!
Is Open Books a children's bookstore?The Open Books store has every type of book imaginable, and is not limited to children’s and YA books. However, our children’s and YA section is huge — more than 10,000 books!
Who monitors the students’ book selection?It’s up to school teachers and chaperones to make sure that children choose appropriate books. Since Open Books stocks all kinds of books—for adults and children alike—we leave it up to schools and teachers to decide what’s appropriate for each student.
Do teachers and chaperones get free books too?The book coupons are for the students only. However, we have many opportunities for teachers to receive free and reduced cost books for their classrooms! Ask us!