"A third grade boy told me today that your visit was 'the best day yet in the entire school year!' And this is from a boy who is not easily pleased....Not a book of yours is on our shelf -- they are all checked out, with waiting lists." -- Ann Haefele, Librarian, Park Road Elementary School
"Today, I met with several classes you spoke to yesterday. They all talked about your 'seed' imagery, 'strong feeling' and 'throwing the stick' requirements for a good story. You do a fabulous presentation that stays with the kids." -- Barbara Shostal, Librarian, Hunter College Elementary School
I do school visits in the New York City area and farther afield. Contact info is at the bottom of the page. Below, I describe three basic presentations, but really -- it's all flexible, depending on your school, its population, and what books you want your students reading before I arrive!
NURSERY SCHOOL AND PRE-K CHAT, for children under five. I talk about my job as a writer and then I read two books: usually A Greyhound, A Groundhog and The Fun Book of Scary Stuff. I talk about how those books come to be. I also often read Daffodil, Crocodile,which is fun for rowdy groups as it gives the children a chance to participate and call out repeated phrases. It's also a good one for a post-read analytic chat (yes!). The presentation invites children to share or ask questions after each story. 30 - 45 minutes or so.
PICTURE BOOKS: STORYTELLERS' CRAFT, for K-3. This classroom presentation is for slightly older kids but it still involves reading stories aloud and is suited to small groups or auditoriums. I read and discuss stories of mind that start with noticing (with ears, eyes, the sense of touch) -- most often Toys Meet Snow and Water in the Park. We spend some time in discussion, being readers who notice, and students are empowered as both readers and as future writers. We also talk about creating action stories, usually focused on Lemonade in Winter, and I explain how I exaggerated and fictionalized a true event to turn it into fiction. There's a question and answer period at the end. 45 minutes or so.
CHAPTER BOOKS: STORYTELLERS' CRAFT (library or auditorium), for K-5. This is the presentation I'm most often asked to do on school visits. It's a slideshow presentation about my writing process that empowers students by giving them storytelling techniques they can use in their own work. It can focus on Toys Go Out, Invisible Inkling, or Upside-down Magic. I don't read aloud from my books but instead focus on how stories begin with a seed idea and develop over multiple revisions. I discuss the elements of strong storytelling: emotion, problems, action, and so on.
Book sales: I recommend you partner with your local independent bookstore and arrange advance orders -- that usually works best.
Travel: Out of town, prices include travel and lodging expenses.
Inquiries: Speaking engagements and school visits are booked through the Penguin Random House Speaker's Bureau. Click the link for more info. Contact Christine Labov at the bureau: firstname.lastname@example.org.