Author Visits

Author Visits

I really enjoy visiting schools and libraries to talk with kids. For details about scheduling and fees, please send me an email with your name, phone number, and email address, as well as the name of your school and its location.

Presentations for Pre-K and primary grade students:
This fast-paced, lively, and playful program uses the Explore My World series as a springboard to encourage kids to learn about and marvel at the fascinating world of nature. Before the program ends, the kids and I will be singing like frogs, wriggling like caterpillars, or floating like clouds as we have fun exploring the world around us and picking up some pretty cool scientific facts along the way.

Presentations for elementary and middle school students:
I tailor these presentations to fit the grade level of the audience. They generally run 30 to 40 minutes long, with an additional 10 to 15 minutes for questions. For illustrated presentations, I will need an LCD projector and projection screen. Please let me know if you have any special requests. I am happy to modify a program to suit your needs.

BREATHING LIFE INTO BIOGRAPHIES
Kids get the inside story on researching and writing a biography from the book author’s perspective, with an emphasis on ways to breathe life into a person’s story. I include examples from my own biographies of Annie Sullivan, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Edison, including some of the quirky facts about these people that fascinated me and found their way into my books. I talk about how I became an author, how I do my research, and how I approach the writing process. I also talk about the curious relationship that grows between me and the person I’m writing about, the way I practically live with her or him for many months or even a year. I conclude with tips for young writers and leave time for kids to ask questions about my books, writing, and the publishing process.

MEET A MIRACLE WORKER
Based on my book Helen’s Eyes, this presentation introduces kids to two of the most fascinating and courageous women in American history: Annie Sullivan, one of the greatest teachers ever, and her famous student, Helen Keller. Kids will be captivated and inspired by the story of these extraordinary women.

Imagine having to sleep in a room where dead bodies were stored! This happened to nine-year-old Annie Sullivan and her brother Jimmie on the first night they spent in the poorhouse in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. Annie lived in the poorhouse for four more years, and she didn’t even start school until she was 14. But a raging thirst for education led her to succeed, and just six years later she took a job teaching a young blind and deaf girl named Helen Keller. Annie’s innovative methods unlocked the world of language for Helen, who went on to inspire the world with her achievements. Annie became known as the “miracle worker.” Together, she and Helen made history. They showed the world what a person with severe physical challenges can accomplish and worked to expand educational opportunities for all individuals with disabilities.

In this presentation I also talk about how I became an author and how I researched this book. I conclude with tips for young writers and leave time for kids to ask questions about my books, writing, and the publishing process.

LOOKING FOR HEROES?
Through fun facts and stories, this program introduces kids to American heroes both famous and less well known and discusses why they are considered heroes. Together, the audience and I explore what it means to be a hero, and how our values—which can change from year to year, decade to decade—determine who we see as heroes. If there’s time, we talk about who our own personal heroes are, and why. (One of mine is my eighth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Ellington.)

I also talk briefly about how I researched and wrote this book, and about how the 50 heroes in the book were selected. (I had lots of help deciding who made the cut!) I conclude with tips for young writers and leave time for kids to ask questions about my books, writing, and the publishing process.

WHO WERE GEORGE WASHINGTON’S “PEOPLE”?
(This program is available for children 10 and up, teens, and adults.)
George Washington called the enslaved men, women, and children at his Mount Vernon plantation his “people,” but by law they were his property. In this presentation, I talk about what life was like for Washington’s slaves and how their famous owner’s attitude toward slavery changed over his lifetime. I discuss what inspired me to write the book, how I researched it, and the challenges of writing it. I also share a behind-the-scenes look at how the book was designed and illustrated.