Author Visits to Schools
"I loved the way Mara dealt with our students. She asked intelligent questions and treated them with respect and humor. The students were captivated by her presentation."
—Samuel Gompers Elementary School, Philadelphia, PA
"The presentation taught the students all about the writing and editing process in a fun and memorable way. It was interactive and held the students' attention very well... The presentation was done with humor and heart."
—The Millington School, Millington, NJ
"Staff and students loved your presentations!! You engaged the students and left them wanting to hear more."
—Baker Elementary School, Pittsburgh, PA
Click for quick answers, or just scroll down:
What kinds of programs do you offer?
Do you do Skype visits?
Do you have programs for adults?
How do we contact you, and how much do you charge?
Our school can't afford an author visit. What can we do?
How should we prepare students and teachers for your visit?
We want an author, but we don't want you . . .
Assembly programs for grades K-6
HOW TO COOK A STORY (grades K-2, ~35 minutes)
(Focus: Elements of a story)
Common Core Writing Standard 3: Write a narrative recounting a series of events in order, using details and providing closure.
Every kindergartner knows that "the author writes the book"... but how? In this short, interactive assembly program, we learn how to gather the ingredients a story needs and put them together in the right order with a beginning, a middle, and an end. I also answer kids' favorite questions about picture books, such as "Which come first, the pictures or the words?"
"The teachers told me that you were great. You really understood how to keep the attention of K and 1st graders. They loved that you reinforced curriculum with the parts of a story."
—Coudersport Elementary School, Coudersport, PA
"This was one of the best author visits I have seen, and over 25 years, I have seen a lot! Thanks for coming!"
—Richboro Elementary School, Richboro, PA
SECRETS OF A SUPER STORY (grades 2-4, ~45 minutes)
(Focus: Writing process, prewriting through publication)
Common Core Writing Standard 5: With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing. Click here for instructional objectives
In this program, students learn that writing a mystery (or anything else!) is just like solving one. From the first brainstorming session to the final wrap-up, it takes persistence, collaboration, and a willingness to toss out ideas that aren't working and try new ones. (Tired of hearing your students whine about revision? Wait till they see how many drafts an editor requires!)
"I loved the mysterious entrance, and the humor. It was so beneficial to our kids to see the writing process in action.
Your presentation was very well thought out and gave clear, real life examples of every step of the writing process."
—Woodbrook Elementary School, Charlottesville, VA
"I loved the focus on the idea that writing is never perfect the first try." —Livingston Avenue School, Cranford, NJ
"I can highlight the importance of revising/editing for the rest of the year—students will have more motivation and a solid experience to refer to."
—East Pikeland Elementary School, Phoenixville, PA
"Since your visit our library's Milo & Jazz mysteries have been the most circulated items in our collection. I have something like 3 of each title and they are NEVER in the library. BRAVO!"
—Stone-Robinson Elementary School, Charlottesville, VA
ADVENTURES IN RESEARCH (grades 4-6, ~50 minutes)
(Focus: Finding and evaluating sources)
Common Core Writing Standards 7 and 8: Conduct research projects using multiple sources. Take notes, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
I was a kid who hated research. I struggled with taking notes and "putting it in my own words." Then I grew up and discovered that doing research is an ADVENTURE. Join me as we spy out secrets, dig for hidden treasure, elude pitfalls and outwit the enemy (untrustworthy sources!)—and come home with a story to amaze and thrill our friends.
"I loved how you kept the students engaged and led them through your process of researching without just saying I did this and I did this...you showed them the primary and secondary sources and really involved them in the process!"
—Severna Park Elementary School, Severna Park, MD
"The slides in your power-point, strategies and examples used to explain the steps to research were spot on and
meaningful to the students."
—Bel Air Elementary School, Cumberland, MD
"The students were talking about the blindfold activity and advice on how to put information in your own words...We really appreciated the focus on research and how to do it well. No other author has offered this."
—Coudersport Elementary School, Coudersport, PA
WRITING WORKSHOPS (for smaller groups)
Yes, I do! More information on my page at the Skype an Author Network.
"Oh my gosh, the kids are buzzing with excitement!!! Thank you so, so much. You went above and beyond."
—Farmington STEAM Academy, Farmington, MI
"That was amazing! Our very first Skype author visit ever!
Thank you so much for talking to my students. We will remember this for a long time!"
—Callejo Elementary School, Dallas, TX
"Your SKYPE phone call with my 2nd graders was FABULOUS! I am so impressed with the thought you put into the call, answering each question and expanding on your answers. If your ears are ringing today, it is me showering you with compliments in our teacher's lounge!"
—Highland Elementary, Sylvania, OH
"After we hung up, all the students were putting in their requests for various books. Can't wait to read them all."
—Westby Elementary, Westby, WI
I speak to large and small groups of teachers, librarians, writers, parents and children, and the general public. Just ask! A few of the places I've appeared:
My fee varies depending on distance and number of programs. I offer substantial discounts to schools within two hours of Lancaster, PA. (This includes parts of Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey as well as Pennsylvania.) I also offer discounts for multiple visits in one school district.
Please email me for details, letting me know where you are and what you have in mind:
Funding author visits
As every teacher knows, time spent in the classroom is just the tip of the iceberg. Visiting authors put in many hours planning, preparing, organizing, gathering materials, communicating with the school, and traveling. All that takes time away from our regular job—writing!
For schools, this means an author visit can be pricey. Here are a few tips:
Amber Brown Grant From the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Grants for Librarians A comprehensive list, with links.
McBookWords Scroll down to "Funding an Author Visit" for links to grants.
Grants for School Visits Posted in 2004; some may be out of date.
Preparing for an author visit
When you book me, I'll send you a letter with specifics about your program. These links can also help you get started:
Ten Tips for a Perfect Author Visit By author and former school administrator Michael Shoulders.
The Perfect Author Visit Courtesy of Dan Gutman, author of many hilarious books including the My Weird School series.
Organizing an Author Visit Geared to parents' clubs, from PTOtoday.com.
Authors who do school visits
A. S. King
Donna Jo Napoli
Lisa Kahn Schnell
Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Eastern Pennsylvania - Find a Speaker
Author School Visits by State
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators: Find a Speaker