Speaking

I love visiting schools and libraries. I do large and small group presentations, as well as writing workshops. You are free to mix and match up to 3 programs per day. In addition, I am happy to meet with a small group of students, such as an afterschool book club or writing group, for an informal Q and A session.

School Visits
Large group presentations
Using a PowerPoint slide program, I offer a look behind the scenes of creating a book from initial spark to final published work. Programs may focus on one or more of my books, depending on the age and interests of the audience. 

My programs are interactive and designed to nurture a love of reading and telling stories. We talk about where writers get ideas, how writers turn ideas into stories, what it's like to work with an editor and how picture books are created. 

With students in grades two and up, we talk about what you need to tell a story. With older students, we talk about character and setting and dialogue and more of the elements of storytelling.

Writing Workshops: Workshops are most effective in smaller groups, such as in individual classrooms. Some of the workshop programs I offer are:

Personal Narrative: This workshop is designed to help students overcome a fear of writing and boost confidence in their ability to craft stories on the page. Drawing on examples from my own books as well as the work of others, I lead students through an in-class exercise in which we brainstorm for ideas and talk about how to structure the memory of an experience into a story with an appropriate beginning, middle and end. We talk about setting and dialogue.  We talk about word choice and details. We talk about using the five senses to bring stories to life. (Grades 3 and up)

Persona and Mask Poems: The sky's the limit when it comes to creating persona or mask poems. Students imagine what it would be like to be a certain object, animal, insect, mythological beast, fairy tale character or folk hero and then write a poem in the voice of that "character." Writing poems in the voice of another person, animal or thing helps boost creativity and develop empathy for others.  With younger students, we brainstorm and craft a poem as a group. (Grades 2 and up)

The Poet's Toolbox: Rhythm, Rhyme and Repetition: This interactive program is designed to nurture an appreciation for poetry in younger elementary students.  Following a reading of my picture book, A Day for Skating, we look at other poems and chant them together, feeling the music of the words, as we move and clap in rhythm with the language.  Younger elementary. Grades 1-3)

Creating Characters Inspired by History and Real People: This program is appropriate for older elementary and middle school students. (grades 4-8). Using Solomon Brokenberry from my novel, All That's Missing, as an model, we talk about how writers do research in order to create fictional characters who might have lived in another time period. Following a group discussion, we do an in-class exercise, imagining the story of a fictional person who might have lived in a historical time period. Students also learn the basic elements of creating a character as we brainstorm for details about a fictional person's life.  Working as a group, we compile a list of questions that need to be answered and talk about the kind of research that may be required.

CONFERENCES, FESTIVALS, KEYNOTES, PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
I love speaking and presenting at conferences, festivals and professional development events. In addition to writing workshops for young people, I also offer writing workshops for adults who are interested in writing for children. I have taught at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD, at the Highlights Foundation and online through The Writing Barn, as well as in programs in schools, libraries, and colleges.

SKYPE VISITS
I have conducted over 100 Skype visits with students in the U.S., England, Ireland, India, Kenya, Panama, Brazil, Canada and Spain. I offer a limited number of free half-hour Skype visits during the school year.    

BOOK SALES
Click on this link for information on how to order books at a 40% discount in connection with a visit to your school or library.

 
Readers Theater at Matoaka
Contact Sarah for details or to arrange a visit or presentation.
Order Books at a 40% discount for your school or library visit.
Refer to my Appearance Schedule for dates I already have booked.
Testimonials
“We had a wonderful time and will be able to use this experience to benefit the students all year. We appreciate all that you did to reinforce research, writing, and reading!” (Lara Samuels, MLS, NBCT, School Librarian, Cool Spring Elementary, Mechanicsville, VA)
"Thank you again for being our Keynote Speaker. … You received rave reviews on the evaluations." (Patrice Lambusta, Librarian, Writing Lead, VAASL York Regional Director, Passage Middle School, Newport News, VA)
“I so appreciate the time you spent with my class. It was such a wonderful experience, and I have shared you with many colleagues.” (Traci Salari, Fifth Grade Teacher, The Bolles School, Jacksonville, FL)
“On behalf of the administration, teachers, staff, and students,I want to personally send you a special thanks for the skype visit on last Tuesday. This was an awesome experience for our students and I have received nothing but great compliments about this experience. I'm sure it inspired many of our students to one day become authors and it certainly inspired me. Again thank you for taking out the time to share your great work with our school.” (Cynthia Jeffress, Media Specialist, Martinsville Middle School)
Read Local Challenge
I'm participating in the Read Local Challenge. If you're a school or library and want to participate, you could win signed books, Skype visits, or discounted author visits by me and other local authors and illustrators!
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