School visits begin with a talk about my life as an author/illustrator.
I bring various materials to show and discuss the process of creating a book from idea to manuscript and sketches and finally, to publication. We’ll talk about how to find ideas in every day life that can become ingredients for a great story. In the Powerpoint segment I answer commonly asked questions about my writing life: How I began writing, where I finds my ideas, how I revise my picture book and/or chapter books, depending on the grade or age of the group.
After the presentation, older students sometimes perform a Reader's Theater of Call Me Oklahoma! I bring various brief scenes from the book adapted to a script form so that several groups of students have the opportunity to perform.
I also do a simple illustration demonstration showing students how simple shapes create a character from one of my books. I provide students with an easy step-by-step guide for drawing that character themselves.
Depending on the length of the visit, I can also speak to the students about Strategies for Becoming a Better Writer. I encourage students to think of themselves as writers of tomorrow by using some of the following tools:
Learning to use observations. Being a writer is like being a good spy. By watching their friends and families, students can learn to use their observations in their writing. I show students how often situations and humor are often lifted from every day experiences to become the seeds of a plot and main character.
Listening to dialogue, and how it works in telling creating characters and telling a story.
Using all of our senses and to create setting.
Using vivid vocabulary to express ideas and feelings.
How Did You Make That Book?
Creating Stories through Words and Pictures
As a children’s author, I love meeting the children I write for and sharing some of my experiences and expertise with them. Children love to meet real live authors—and I love to meet real live readers!
I’m happy to tailor my visit to your needs. I enjoy talking to students about my life as a writer and the process of writing and illustrating books. I look forward to inspiring kids of all ages to write and draw.
Q & A. I encourage teachers to have their students generate some of their questions prior to my visit. Students can ask me anything, and I love to hear what they’re reading, too!
Selling and Signing my Books:
Signing books for the children I write for is one of the greatest parts of my job. I’m happy to sign books in front of them while I’m there. If they can be sold in advance, all the better. Things move faster. If not, that’s fine, too.
Tips on Organizing a Successful School Visit:
One of the easiest ways to assure that your school will have a wonderful and productive author visit is by giving your students plenty of time to read my books before they arrive. I prefer to book a school 3-6 months in advance to allow for that, if possible. When the children know and like my characters, we’re old friends by the time I arrive and the level of excitement is high.
Group Grades Carefully
I’m comfortable talking to either large or small groups in the classroom or media center. Size isn’t as important as talking to a group that’s roughly on the same reading level.
Help Recoup Your Expenses!
PTA groups can make a good percentage of the cost of my visit by pre-selling my books and sending an order form home with the children 6-8 weeks in advance. If schools order directly from the Publishers, they can get a school discount of 30-40% and make a profit by selling the books for the usual price. Many schools opt to work with a local Independent bookstore which will often order the books, accept returns, and give the school 20% of the profits. Book sales can go a long way toward recouping the cost of my visit. I can provide schools with a list of my books and ISBN numbers, as well as contact names at my publishers.
I love signing books while the children are there during my visit. So as to get the correct spelling of each child’s name, I ask that it be written on a slip of paper and put inside the book. Or, I can send the school a template of my personalized bookmark to copy and hand out, in advance.
My daily rate includes three presentations, plus travel and accommodation, if necessary. I’m also happy to meet with a small group of creative writers and talk about their work during that time.
Please email me for my rate and to discuss having me visit your school.
All travel arrangements should be made from Medford, Massachusetts, where I live.
Thanks for your interest in my books. You and your students are the people I write for!