Teaching and Speaking
Dear teachers, librarians, booksellers, conference organizers, parents, grandparents, humans and readers of all ages:
Thank you for your support of my work, for sharing my books, and for bringing me to speak or teach or sign books at your school, conference, or event. It has been a wild and meaningful ride, and I wouldn’t trade a day of the work we’ve done together for anything.
My books reflect my own story and our collective history as well as one of my deepest held beliefs, that every human being is worthy of dignity and respect, and every person’s story is important.
I hope you’ll laugh, cry, connect, and press each of my books into someone else’s hands with a heartfelt “You’ve got to read this!” whether it’s a picture book about friendship, fairness, and civil rights (FREEDOM SUMMER) or a documentary novel about the 1960s like COUNTDOWN; a story about death that’s really about life (EACH LITTLE BIRD THAT SINGS) or a chapter book about a plucky 9-year-old, her wacky grandmother, and a whole lot of unruly chickens (LOVE, RUBY LAVENDER); a middle-grade novel about baseball, poetry and belonging (THE AURORA COUNTY ALL-STARS) or a hymn to the wonders of the natural world (NIGHT WALK TO THE SEA); a counting book about for youngest readers (ONE WIDE SKY), or a YA novel (my first) about a tragic moment in U.S. history, like KENT STATE.
Below is some information I’ve found helpful in answering your questions about a school visit or speaking/appearance request.
You can familiarize yourself with background on my books here at my website, at each book’s individual page, and at my blog. To read more about me, go here, and to read about diversity and inclusion in my books, start here.
I speak to all ages, and have books that span across ages and grades and identities and demographics. I feel your funding is best spent by having me speak to grades 3 and above, but I can and do certainly use FREEDOM SUMMER with all ages, and ONE WIDE SKY with its music and dance, for youngest learners.
I can see an entire school population in a day, spend the day with only one grade, or some combination. I work within your scheduling and curriculum needs. I do single sessions or half days if your school is local to Atlanta, or if there is a partner school for the other half of the day.
I pay my own expenses. They are rolled into a standard honorarium.
I’m teaching while I present in assemblies. Students in grades 4 and up bring their notebooks with them to assembly. Teachers should attend assembly with their students.
In assembly or workshop I connect students to me, to my books, to one another, and to their own personal narratives. They leave assembly ready to read and write with you. I adjust each assembly to the age and grade and number of students I’m working with. Large — or small — groups are fine.
I arrange a Skype visit for any time zone/country. Skypes consist of an opening talk about the particular book(s) you are reading and then a Q&A depending on your needs and scheduling.
I do a limited number of school visits per year right now while promoting KENT STATE in 2020 and meeting the next deadline.
You can email me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please put SCHOOL VISIT REQUEST or something similar in the subject line.
The blog on this website is a good way to keep up with books published, or in production, the writing process and announcements.
BOOKS PUBLISHED AND ON THE HORIZON:
I use the Aurora County Books (RUBY, LITTLE BIRD, ALL-STARS, A LONG LINE OF CAKES) when working with elementary students and the Sixties documentary novels (COUNTDOWN, REVOLUTION, ANTHEM) for upper elementary into middle school/high school, and KENT STATE for high school/young adult/adult readers. FREEDOM SUMMER weaves through all grades and ages and I usually share it last in each assembly.
In Fall 2020 I’ll have a new picture book about Rachel Carson to share with young readers from Random House.
In Spring 2021, I’ll have a new picture book to share, WE ARE ALL UNDER ONE WIDE SKY, from Sounds True. It’s a revisioning of ONE WIDE SKY, a counting book and also a peace anthem.
In Fall 2021 Roaring Brook and I will publish SIMPLE THANKS, a picture book about gratitude. Also in Fall 2021 or in Spring 2022, here comes a picture book story about Robert Kennedy and how young people of all ages and colors and stages can work together to change the world, published by Scholastic.
I publish with Simon&Schuster, Harcourt/HMH, Random House, Roaring Brook, Sounds True, and Scholastic Press. If you want to do a book sale in conjunction with a school visit, I’ll help you handily set that up.
My new YA novel, and what this Southern writer is working on right now, is a story about The Lost Cause of the Confederacy and the Rise of White Supremacy. The working title is CHARLOTTESVILLE.
Conferences: I’ve delivered keynotes and breakout sessions at state and regional library and reading conferences; I’ve spoken at the American Library Association’s Annual and Midwinter conferences, at the National Council of Teachers of English conference, the National Council on the Social Studies, the International Reading Association (now ILA), the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents/ALAN, and YALSA; I’ve worked as part of a team at writing and professional development workshops and literary festivals; and I have been part of the teaching faculty in MFA programs as well as at Towson University in Baltimore, where I taught “Writing Techniques for Teachers” ECED422 until I moved to Atlanta.
I speak about my books, yes (and others), about how they were written, about using them in the classroom, about social justice, citizenship, community, personal narratives turned into fiction, telling our stories, and more. It depends on the venue and the organization. The more I know about your needs and audience, the more effectively we’ll connect and work together. I always look forward to doing good work together to accomplish your goals.
For more information, you can write me here: email@example.com
If you know what you want already; if you are a bookstore with an event request; or for national conferences, the emails to use are on my contact page. I’d appreciate a cc as well, or you can write me and cc Lizette or Amy or Danielle. Or write me and I will acknowledge your email and forward it to the appropriate Publicity or Conference Goddess.
“I found your session so inspiring, and haven’t been able to stop thinking about writing since! Your books Countdown and Revolution had me in awe. I had never seen children’s books with such a creative and innovative layout. A documentary novel… who would have thought? I simply wanted to take a moment to thank you; thank you for your story, your knowledge, your humor, and your candidness.”
— a conference attendee and teacher