I love children and teenagers and I especially love meeting young readers and talking with them about books and poetry. I visit schools or libraries about once a month, and usually schedule my visits six months to a year in advance.
I also give readings of my work and speak to adult audiences at colleges and conferences.
Programs for children and teens
My presentations can be adapted to different ages and group sizes.
For those who have read one or more of my books (strongly advised), I speak about the book or books they have read.
If all or most of the students have not read the same book, I talk about poetry and writing, introducing them to 2 or 3 of my books by reading excerpts and sharing stories about writing.
For Grades PreK-2
Monarch and Milkweed—I talk about my experience raising monarchs and traveling to Mexico to see them in the winter, sharing photographs and videos of monarchs in Mexico and North America (this program can be geared for older audiences as well).
Step Gently Out, Sweep Up the Sun, Among a Thousand Fireflies, Wake Up!, Hello, I’m Here!, and Wait–and See . I can focus on one book, or all of them, encouraging children to observe what is going on all around them in nature.
Note: I usually present alone, but if you have funding to bring both Rick Lieder and me, we can share how poetry and photography work together in our books.
For grades 2-3
Any of the above books, plus:
Applesauce Weather Discussions of family grieving, story-telling, friendships.
Blue Daisy, Friendship, “mean kids,” pets, neighborhoods.
Also for Grade 3—Room 214: A Year in Poems and Diamond Willow (see below).
For Grades 3-6
All He Knew (grades 4-12) See description below. I discuss the process of research and writing, and how family history and world history came together as I wrote this book.
Diamond Willow: includes photographs of my life in Alaska and conversation about writing the poems and shaping the story.
Salt:A Story of Friendship in a Time of War research and writing historical fiction. Native American history, especially of the Miami Tribe/Nation.
note: Dani Tippmann, member and cultural expert of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, who lives near me in Indiana, can be invited as a co-presenter for programs about this book. If you would like to invite Dani Tippmann to present by herself (she is amazing!) I can put you in touch with her.
Room 214: A Year in Poems (note: the hardcover edition of this book is Spinning Through the Universe) Students love to talk about the characters, the poetry, the classroom friendships. If time permits (50-60 minutes), I offer a poetry workshop based on this book.
When My Sister Started Kissing is a good introduction to novels-in-poems. It often leads to conversation about changing family structures and friendships.
For Grades 4-9
All He Knew I discuss the process of research and writing, and how family history and world history came together as I wrote this book. The story often opens conversations about family, community, deafness (historically as well as today’s Deaf community), the history of institutions, the history of World War II, and how conscientious objectors became agents of change. (grades 4-12)
Hidden is perfect for older elementary or middle school students. I discuss writing the story, and speak with care about some of the issues the story raises. For example, many children have incarcerated parents and don’t often see that experience represented in books.
Salt (see above) is also good for this age group.
Room 214 (see above) is a good poetry unit for older students, with students writing poems in the voices of the characters, and/or in the forms found in the book.
For Grades 6-10
My presentations for younger middle school students are usually based on All He Knew, Room 214: A Year in Poems, Diamond Willow, Hidden, Salt, and When My Sister Started Kissing (see descriptions above).
For older students I also speak about Keesha’s House, The Braid, and Crossing Stones.
For High School
Most of my programs are based on Keesha’s House, The Braid, Crossing Stones and Hidden.