I would love to visit your school!
HOW MUCH DO I CHARGE?
I charge $1000 plus expenses (flight, lodging and ground transportation when necessary) for up to six presentations a day elementary, four middle school.
If you cannot afford $1000 plus expenses, don't assume it's impossible. Send me a proposal of what you can afford and I will do my best to say yes. I don't want any kids left out for purely economic reasons.
After ten years of presenting to hundreds of schools all over the country, I have kept my fees lower than my contemporaries for two reasons. I had to raise me fee because so many of my household expenses have gone up. But I'm still low compared to many writers and illustrators. That's my vote of solidarity with you all as educators.
That said, I believe my visits are worth the investment. I work hard to touch on Common Core Standards -- heightened emphasis on informational reading and writing, including critical thinking skills, careful research habits and text revision. By revealing my own WONDERS OF WEIRD writing process, the kids are excited to read and write more about their personal passions. And I adapt each presentation to be age appropriate for each grade level gathering. But don't take my word for it. Check my references to be sure. : )
AIR AND GROUND TRANSPORTATION
If you talk with other schools in your district, and they're also interested in school visits, it can make the air transportation costs a lot more affordable. Also, local public libraries will sometimes share the cost if you contact them to co-op a visit. I do need ground transportation while I'm in your area, because I get lost easily. Renting a car? Not a good idea for me. I get lost in a closet. I can do it if you can afford it. But, hopefully, saving the cost of a rental car will make it better for you, too. Thanks for understanding.
If you can round up five or more full school days for me, I might be able to cover part of the airfare. So the more the merrier!
I've written six books about dinosaurs and more are coming. I have a lovely collection of fossil replicas to help bring those dinosaurs to life with small readers. So my DINOSAURS presentation is ideal for K-1st graders. It is a 30 minute event complete with the chance to touch dinosaur poop -- coprolite.
WONDERS OF WEIRD -- ANIMALS/MYSTERIES
My primary and best presentation is called THE WONDERS OF WEIRD -- animals for 2nd & 3rd, jaw dropping mysteries for grades 4 to 8.
I have images on a flashdrive to compliment what I say, so I'll need a projector, a screen and a laptop -- a microphone if the groups are large. It is a lively touch-and-learn presentation that's more of a "show" than a workshop. It inspires kids to get excited about research and writing of their own. It encourages critical thinking and brings the work I do into focus. In fact, I invite them to take my place, someday.
I outline my research process, which is like a treasure hunt, I reveal how similar my editors are to their teachers—how writing is a team effort in school and in the real publishing world. After the presentation, kids are invited to line up and touch the artifacts I share during the presentation -- dinosaur fossils, cryptozoology evidence and other items drawn straight from the pages of my books (I will need a table for those artifacts, thanks). It works well as a very large assembly or as several age appropriate presentation in the library.
The library is my preference. Kids come into the library expecting to be quiet and to discover new and wonderful things. It's the nature of a library. Kids go into the gym or cafeteria to be loud and social. I can make your multipurpose room work, and often do. But IF we can stay in the library, it seems to add a dash of magic. Keep that in mind!
WEAVING FACTS INTO FICTION
Because I've been asked to offer writing workshops, I have created two that emphasize weaving facts into fiction. "My Pet Dinosaur" is the theme for grades K-2. "What Do We Know About Bigfoot?" is the theme for older students. And it's a fun exploration of realistic story telling, informed by careful research.
I will happily do the workshops for you in a classroom or library environment. And the kids enjoy the experience. But to be honest, it's not as impactful as the WONDERS OF WEIRD. I am a writer not a teacher. You as educators are far more expert at TEACHING than I will ever be. My real strength is inspirational. WONDERS OF WEIRD and Q&A illustrates that strength far more effectively. So I strongly encourage you to select that option.
SAMPLE SCHEDULE ELEMENTARY
Some librarians or other event coordinators ask for a sample schedule to help them plan their day with me. This is a schedule very often adopted when I visit a school. But its not the only option, just one example. Feel free to create the schedule that's best for YOUR population, and run it past me.
Pick Author Up at the Hotel
Wonders of Weird assembly -- K-2 (45 minutes)
Wonders of Weird assembly -- 3-6 (45 minutes)
Lunch with the Author (library volunteers, AR readers school staff)
Q&A Session 3rd Grade
Q&A Session 4th Grade
Q&A Session 5th Grade
Q&A Session 6th Grade
Book Signing & Autographs
Back to the hotel or airport
Another possible schedule:
Wonders of Weird Dinosaurs -- K-1st (30 minutes)
Wonders of Weird -- 2nd Grade
Wonders of Weird -- 3rd Grade
Wonders of Weird -- 4th Grade
Wonders of Weird -- 5th Grade
Q&A -- 3rd, 4th, 5th Grade
Dismissal and back to the hotel or airport.
Middle School Schedule
Wonders of Weird -- 45 minutes
Wonders of Weird -- 45 minues
Wonders of Weird -- 45 minutes
Wonders of Weird-- 45 minutes
Note, we can walk from classroom to classroom if time permits to allow for Q&A after the presentations. And always, kids are welcome at lunch with me, if you'd like to use it as a special occasion.
SELLING MY BOOKS WHILE I'M AT YOUR SCHOOL
It is always nice if you sell my books in advance of my school visit so I can sign them while I'm there, but it is not required. If you do decide to sell books, there are two ways to do it. You can ask your local bookseller to handle ordering the books to help them stay in business, and that's always a good idea. That way you create an order form featuring the books your store is able to secure, send them home, collect the checks and the order forms, match them to the books they deliver, and pass them out. The bookstore handles the pricing and the ordering of stock. It seems to be the easiest option for the school.
The second option -- you can order the books directly from my publishers, usually at a pretty deep discount. That involves ordering at least two months in advance and a little guess work on how many books you'll actually sell. You order them, you create a book order form, you collect the money, pass out the books and I'll sign them when I get there. But you can either pass the discounted price on to your kids, or you can use the cover price, and keep the difference to help offset the cost of the school visit.
No matter how you do it, order a few more copies of the most popular books than the kids have said they want in advance, because after I present, many kids want books (when they were sure they did not want books before we met). If you have to order additional books after I'm gone, I will sign and mail bookplates so the kids will have autographed books. BTW, I will also autograph bookmarks or scraps of paper, etc. Kids do NOT have to buy a book to get an autograph...not ever.
Wondering what my presentations are like? Check this out!
Much appreciation to Fife Free Press reporter Matt Nagle for this amazing article about my school visit in December of 2010. To read the full text, click HERE.