"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 four 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, really! 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 start with the crowd-pleasing A Greyhound, A Groundhog, and then talk about my job a little. Then the meat of the talk: I discuss stories of mine that began with noticing the world around me -- most often Toys Meet Snow and Water in the Park. We spend some time in discussion of certain images, and I encourage the children to self-identify as noticing types. The students are empowered as readers and as future writers. We then turn our noticing eyes back to Greyhound, and further unpack my text and Appelhans’s imagery. If there’s extra time, I also talk about creating action stories, usually focused on Lemonade in Winter. 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.
CHAPTER BOOKS: FAIRY TALE EMPOWERMENT (library or auditorium), for grades 3-5. A slideshow presentation about the history of fairy tales and "Snow White" in particular, including the development of my book, Brave Red, Smart Frog, and leading into discussion of the history of magical stories and my series with Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle, Upside-Down Magic. I read aloud a short passage, but mostly I empower kids to self-identify as story experts and to understand themselves as repositories of narratives that they can re-tell and reimagine.
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 Speakers’ Bureau. Click the link for more info. Contact Christine Labov at the bureau: email@example.com.
Young adult: I do middle-school and high school visits for my books written under the name E. Lockhart, so if you want me to see grades K-12, I can. Inquire via the Speakers’ Bureau.