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
I have several different presentations, based on different books. Each is flexible in length and 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-1
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).
A program based on the books I create with photographer Rick Lieder (Step Gently Out, Sweep Up the Sun, Among a Thousand Fireflies, Wake Up!, and Hello, I’m Here!). Either of us can present alone, but if you have funding to bring two authors/illustrators, we enjoy giving a presentation where we discuss both poetry and photography and how they work together.
For grades 2-3
Monarch and Milkweed (see above) is especially good for this age.
Applesauce Weather is also fun to share with these young readers.
Blue Daisy, once it is published (January, 2020), will be perfect for this age.
The Candlewick collaborations with Rick Lieder are great for this age.
Grade 3—Room 214 and Diamond Willow (see below) work well in 3rd grade.
For Grades 3-6
Room 214: A Year in Poems (the hardcover edition of this book is Spinning Through the Universe) Students love to talk about the characters, the poetry, the classroom friendships portrayed in this book.
If time permits (50-60 minutes), I can offer a small group poetry workshop based on this book. (Note: older classes, including high school, have used this book as a model in a poetry unit.)
Diamond Willow: includes photographs of my life in Alaska and conversation about writing the poems and shaping the story.
Salt: research and writing historical fiction. Native American history, especially of the Miami Tribe/Nation. 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.
When My Sister Started Kissing is a good introduction to novels-in-poems. It often opens up discussion about changing family structures and friendships.
For Grades 4-9
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
Middle School students can appreciate programs based on any of my novels. My presentations for younger middle school students are usually based on Room 214: A Year in Poems, Diamond Willow, Hidden, Salt, and When My Sister Started Kissing (see descriptions above).
For older students I can 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 or Hidden.
Note: All He Knew, when it is published in August, 2020, will be appropriate for grades, 4-12.