Monday, November 19, 2018

School Visits and Conferences

For conference information, click here:


I visit schools nationwide, speaking to about 15,000 students each year. Each talk is geared to the students’ grade level. I have versions for every grade level and I vary it every year with new video and anecdotes from my current books and adventures. Talks can be presented to pre-K through 8th grade.

What educators are saying…

“Thank you again for such a wonderful visit to Monroe Elementary. I’ve been having authors and illustrators in for a long time, and your visit really stands out. The teachers are still talking about how great your presentation was. You made me look really good, since I booked you!”
-Brenda Gehm, Librarian, Monroe, OH

School Talk Reviews
Kids\' Talk Reviews
School visit fees

Wild Words: Writing Inspired By Wild Adventures
Length: 35 to 50 minutes

I have versions for this talk for every grade level and I vary it every year with new video and anecdotes from my current books and adventures. Time permitting and according to the audience’s interests and grade level, I do the following:
  • Share some of the content that inspires my work: experiences in rain forests and with creatures closer to home
  • Introduce what I call word joy (word choice, fluency, rhythm, rhyme, and the pleasure of puzzling with words)
  • Touch on my writing process and the aspects of quality writing (in some schools called 6 plus traits)
  • Share my revision process and show actual manuscripts with comments on them
  • Teach specific techniques that make nonfiction writing more powerful:
    • revising for specific facts
    • revising for sensory detail
    • revising for metaphor
  • Share sounds I have recorded in rain forests as a way of learning to describe and add sensory depth to material
  • Answer questions about the writing process, the life of a writer, the business of writing, and other writing topics. I am frank in my responses to children about the joys and challenges of writing as a career. I consider answering questions to be one of the most important aspects of my job. Unlike T.V., I am interactive and respond to the curiosity of the audience.
For the very youngest students, pre-K, I briefly talk about what an author does and the differences between fiction and nonfiction. We talk about words, rhythm, rhyme, and the pleasures of reading and writing. For them I do not go in depth with the writing processes above. I read texts of my recent picture books. We do several activities for these youngsters. I introduce them to sounds. For the very youngest students, this talk may last 35 minutes but usually it is 45 minutes.

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