Why should schools consider an author visit?
Working with a real, “live” author can be a wonderful experience for children. In a sense, it gives an extra dimension to reading a book when young readers meet the person who wrote all those words! Children generally enjoy finding out that authors are real people—many of them moms and dads—who just happen to have a talent for telling stories.
What goes into a successful author visit?
Most successful visits have one thing in common: the teachers are prepared for the visit and they make sure the students are also prepared to spend time with a writer. It’s most important that the students and the teachers are familiar with some of my books.
What programs do you offer?
I work with teachers and the librarians to present programs that are appropriate for their students. I have worked with all kinds of students from kindergarten through high school, in all kinds of schools: urban, suburban, and rural; public and private schools; large and very small schools. I keep learning one of the great things about poetry: there are engaging poems and activities for all students, regardless of their age or academic ability.
What grades do you work with?
I generally offer two different poetry programs. In my large group presentations (for 100-125 students), I try to make my audience aware of the possibilities of poetry. I have a PowerPoint presentation that helps illustrate various types of poetry. I also read some of my poems aloud and answer questions. My presentations are energetic and humorous, and I encourage audience participation. I can also conduct poetry-writing workshops. Since interaction between the young writers and me is a crucial part of a successful writing workshop, I ask that workshop attendance be limited to about 25 students.
I also offer slide show programs that are devoted to two of my poetry books: Worlds Afire and Requiem: Poems of the Terezin Ghetto. Because the latter book is about the Holocaust, that program is best suited for students in grades 6 and above. In both programs, I emphasize poetry as history.
Do you have presentations about your informational books?
I often do large group presentations about my informational books and how I came to write them, particularly Top Secret: A Handbook of Codes, Ciphers, and Secret Writing, The Dark Game: True Spy Stories from Invisible Ink to CIA, and Double Cross: Deception Techniques in War. In connection to Top Secret, I also do elementary code-making and code-breaking workshops.
How many presentations will YOU DO in a day? How long are they?
I will make as many as four 45-60-minute presentations a day in a way that works best for teachers and their students. At some schools, for example, I begin the day with a large presentation and then conduct three writing workshops. Other schools prefer three or four large group presentations, while other schools focus on poetry writing workshops for a particular grade of students.