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Author Visits to Schools
student art
"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?

Assembly programs for grades K-6

Chik Chak Shabbat coverHOW 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?"

Gingerbread for Liberty! cover"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

(grades 3-6, ~50 minutes)Mesmerized cover
(Focus: Research, drafting, and revision)

Common Core Writing Standard 5:  With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
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.

Where do you get your ideas? How do you know which sources you can trust? Do you ever get writer's block? How long does it take to write a book?  Our teacher said that all writers revise their workdo you? All your students' questions answered as we take a just-the-fun-parts tour of hidden history, from the Queen of Magic who amazed Houdini to the gingerbread baker who helped win the Revolutionary War.

"I loved the focus on the idea that writing is never perfect the first try."Livingston Avenue School, Cranford, NJ

Around America to Win the Vote cover"I can highlight the importance of revising/editing for the rest of the yearstudents will have more motivation and a solid experience to refer to."
East Pikeland Elementary School, Phoenixville, PA

"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 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

student project

Skype Visits?

Yes, I do! More information on my page at the Skype an Author Network.

Anything but Ordinary Addie cover"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

Born to Swing cover"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

Older Audiences

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:
  • International Literacy Association Conference, New Orleans, LA
  • Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, New York, NY
  • Spring Festival of Children's Literature, Frostburg, MD
  • Bank Street College of Education, New York, NY
  • School Library Journal Day of Dialog at BookExpo America, Chicago, IL
  • New York Public Library, New York, NY
  • Kutztown University Children's Literature Conference, Kutztown, PA
  • Doha International Children's Book Festival, Doha, Qatar
  • Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Summer Conference, Los Angeles, CA
  • Lititz Kid-Lit Festival, Lititz, PA
  • Virginia Festival of the Book, Charlottesville, VA

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:
email address

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: 
  • Think local! Authors live everywhere, and many charge significantly less for nearby appearances. You will also save on travel expenses, meals, and lodging. Or, if you really want a particular author who isn't local, team up with other nearby schools. Often authors will reduce their rate for multiple school visits in the same area.
  • Think local again. Parents' clubs often raise money for author visits. Locally owned businesses may be willing to help out (for instance, a hotel may provide a free or discounted night's stay for a visiting author). And schools can offset some of the cost of a visit by selling the author's books—autographed, of course! 
  • Watch this short video, Finding Funding for School Visits or check out 21 Ways to Fund Author Visits.
  • Inspiration: The All-Time Greatest School Fundraiser |$2000 In 3 Hours
  • Still too strapped? Try applying for a grant.
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

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