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, teach, and 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.
A pandemic sent us all sheltering and doing virtual events, visits, festivals, conferences, and more. All visits in 2020 through 2022 were virtual. If you are still sheltering or if it works better for your scheduling and budget and you want to talk about how a virtual visit would work, you can email me directly here for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
The honorarium for virtual visits is $400 per one-hour session, up to 4 sessions in one day, no expenses. All sessions consist of a program with PP slides followed by a Q&A. All grades. Speaking and teaching for 2023 visits are also, once again, in-person with all/any recommended precautions observed.
Whether virtual or in-person, I tailor each session to grade/age, and leave you with rich and meaningful storytelling you can build on in your classroom. Deep-diving into a particular book before the visit is a fantastic way to set up a visit, as it gives students an investment in our time together, and it gives me a focus that will touch on all aspects of writing well, hit curricular goals, and help students begin to tell and write their own stories.
You can keep up with books published or in production, the writing process, new work/ideas, and some personal stories and sagas through my blog (archived at blogger, and ongoing as “Field Notes” here) and at Instagram, where I post most often.
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.
Fall 2020’s new picture book is about Rachel Carson to share with young readers from Random House.
In June 2021, WE ARE ALL UNDER ONE WIDE SKY published, from Sounds True. It’s a revisioning of ONE WIDE SKY, a counting book that I originally modeled on Molly Bang’s TEN NINE EIGHT, as it counts up to ten and back again, morning-noon-to-night, while it is also a peace anthem and a hymn to diversity, inclusion, and togetherness around the world. That’s a lot for a 32-page picture book to handle. Andrea Stegmaier‘s illustrations make all that possible and elevate my text.
In September 2022 Scholastic published my picture book about Robert F. Kennedy called, simply, BOBBY, illustrated by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, about how the privilege and then loss in RFK’s life led him to change course to a life of service and how young people of all ages and colors and stages can work together to change the world.
In production with Roaring Brook for Spring 2024 is SIMPLE THANKS, a picture book about gratitude being illustrated by Bao Luu.
I publish with Simon & Schuster, Harcourt/HMH (now Harper), 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 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 Elisabeth or Sabrina. 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
To start a conversation about writing workshops, school assembly programs, library visits or conference speaking, please begin here.