School Programs


Author Visits

With more than 40 books, I am able to adapt my presentations to fit a wide range of audiences. I present to students from Pre-K to 8th grade as well as to educators, librarians, and families at evening literacy events. I also give writing workshops to students and adults. My honorarium includes up to four sessions a day, and I can also do two "half-day" visits where nearby schools share me for a day. 

Group Size
Smaller groups make it possible to have a more interactive session, with lots of Q&A. But I know that's not always possible, and I'm comfortable with large groups (200+) or all-school presentations. 

Pre-2  What Makes a Writer? (35 min)
Kids want to know: How do writers get ideas? In my sessions for K-2, we explore where ideas come from, and how similar the writing process is for all writers. The presentation is humorous and fast-paced, with an emphasis on the importance of reading (we see lots of dogs reading).  I include interactive storytelling and review some of the basics all writers need: practice (lots of it), perseverance, and passion.  The primary message: Readers Make Writers!

2/3 Imagine the Past (50 min)
My presentation for third graders (and sometimes second) introduces students to research and history through picture books such as Sky Boys and Stagecoach Sal. (We sing a lot!)  As with my presentation for older students, we look at how words and pictures work together.This session can include a writing activity around Apples to Oregon where I lead students through a fun activity of “writing a letter to a person of the past.”  


4th/5th History Must Be Seen (60 min with writing)
My presentation for students in grades 4th/5th includes a writing activity (using Titanic or Apples to Oregon), depending on time (this usually requires 50-60 min) and group size. We explore how illustrators and authors research and revise to create historical fiction and nonfiction books. Using work-in-progress slides and photographs from Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, Under the Quilt of Night, and Sky Boys, students see how real-life visits to museums, family history, and old photographs can help inform research. I also share how investigators like John Snow relied on primary sources for his work on the 1854 London cholera epidemic in The Great Trouble and we meet some of the people from the Titanic.

5th-8th Everyone’s Story Matters (50-60 min)
This session is designed to share my own passion for history and also help readers think more about writing and research. I hope to encourage an interest in historical fiction and nonfiction, while also sharing research tips to help students be successful in writing papers in middle school, high school, and beyond.  We talk about the research process for The Great Trouble, Titanic, and Courage & Defiance, Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in WWII Denmark

I also include two new 2016 books, a middle grade novel set in 19th century New York City entitled A Bandit’s Tale, the Muddled Misadventures of a Pickpocket and the second of three nonfiction books on World War II entitled Dive! WWII Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific.

Writing Activities & Separate Writing Workshops   
Depending on the size, available time, and age levels of each group, I normally include writing activities with students in grades 3-5 as part of the regular session. I am also happy to arrange separate 45-min writing workshops with students 4-8 grade.

To contact me about author visits, please email me at