School Visit & Writer-in-Residence Information
I love to share my work and my knowledge! I love learning from my readers too, whether they are preschoolers or octagenarians. I have presented at more than 400 schools around the country. I have books and book programs for all ages, and will tailor my talks to your needs. Here is a basic outline of my hour-long book programs:
Brief introduction of myself as Mother, Wife, Softball and Soccer Coach, PTA Volunteer, Writing Teacher, Dog Walker and Toilet Bowl Scrubber! I show my books, then introduce which book I will focus on.
Show with Power Point slides and hands-on materials (ex. Hmong pa'ndau, Vietnamese embroideries) the inspiration for that book. I may touch briefly on other sources of inspiration, such as another book or poem or a cultural artifact. My slides include multicultural information, scenes of foreign settings and characters, original art in sketch, dummy and or finished pieces.
I do a dramatic reading of the book (or excerpt in the case of my novels). I often show the artwork on slides as I read.
WORK WORK WORK!
Revision is HARD, even for me. WRITING IS ONLY A PART OF A BIGGER AND MORE IMPORTANT WORDS: REWRITING! I've never had a fictional book published with fewer than 10 drafts.
To show students how revision improves a story, I read earlier drafts to them. THEY must pick out the changes I made, and we discuss why and how. We also compare the illustrators' sketches with final art, and discuss why changes were made. I make this session as humorous as possible, e.g. showing my "false start" openings, showing lapses in logic, showing "killing off" of characters, etc.
QUESTION & ANSWER
I ask that teachers and students read my work and my biography (on this site) so that the same-old questions are not asked. (Ex. How old were you when you started writing?) Questions about the particular book I'm presenting usually produce the most unique answers.
SPECIFIC BOOK HIGHLIGHTS
Tangled Threads, Stitch in Time & The Whispering Cloth: Materials include original Hmong pa'ndau (tapestries), jewelry, costume pieces. Slides show squalid Thai refugee camps, the Providence Hmong neighborhood, ESL class, Hmong in traditional costumes and playing traditional musical instruments and dances. *Discussion of current refugee & immigrants crises!
Ten Mice for Tet: Samples of the Vietnamese embroidery, Vietnamese musical instruments, New Year trinkets. Slides include scenes from Vietnam villages, rice paddies, floating markets, kids playing traditional games, slides of the illustrator and the embroidery master at work, with pictures in progress, early sketches. Students get to do a "dragon dance" and make some delightful noise.
The Carpet Boy's Gift: Slides of enslaved children at work around the world--making soccer balls, harvesting cocoa for chocolate, making bricks, weaving carpets, doing agricultural deeds, fighting as soldiers. I also show excerpts from a video. I discuss child activist Iqbal Masih, and continuing his legacy by helping to abolish child labor. I usually transition into a poetry workshop. Each child thinks of his worst chore, then writes about having to do that chore day in and day out for no payment.
Liberty Rising: The Story of the Statue of Liberty. I have created two easy and inexpensive craft projects--Liberty's Torch and Liberty's Crown. Children learn some French words too!
Please see my workshop page for choices of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, revision programs.
PRICES: $1200/full day (3.5 presentations in one site); $750 half day (two presentations). Plus travel expenses if the school is more than 50 miles from my home. I can negotiate on multiple school bookings per district.
Thanks so much for a wonderful presentation and Q&A session with our students. It was so powerful for them to be able to hold the beautiful embroidered cloths, to hear about your experience in the Hmong refugee camp, and to listen to and read your amazingly beautiful writing. Learning about your writing process and the number of drafts you wrote is a message that really resonated for all of us!
Kirsten Sanderson, International Baccalaureate Coordinator, Charter Oak International Academy, West Hartford, CT
Pegi's visit to the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom School "Adventures in the City" site at the Thirman Milner School in Hartford, CT, was perfectly in tune with the core values of the Freedom School initiative. The goal of the Freedom School program is to ensure that K-8 students in low-income school districts retain literacy skills gained over the school year throughout the summer by encouraging them to actively engage with books that they can relate to.
As a Servant Leader Intern (SLI), my job was to facilitate discussion about picture books that celebrate diversity and encourage social justice with a group of 12 five-to-six-year-olds. During our morning assembly called "Harambee", the SLIs excite all of our 80 scholars by leading motivational songs, dances, and chants to encourage them to be confident in their reading skills. During the "Read Aloud" portion, a guest reader volunteers their time to read and lead a discussion about the book and their career. After being given the briefest of explanations of the immense goals of the Freedom School program, Pegi adapted her presentation style to fit right in. After observing our “call and response” activities, she initiated a similar style of reading participation.
Her picture book "New Moon" was well received by the students because many of them have similar close relationships to siblings as the characters do. Students were actively engaged in Pegi's reading, which helped their comprehension of the book. My students were chattering for weeks afterwards about how much they loved her! My only regret was that we did not have more time to spend with her - I'm positive my students would have loved to see her every day for the rest of the summer. Her joy in being able to share her book with our Freedom School community was infectious, fueling SLIs and students alike with a love of reading.
I have observed Pegi's amazing strategies in motivating children, college undergraduates, graduate students and inservice teachers to seek their potential levels of creativity through the writing process. She develops an excellent rapport with her participants and, through modeling her own authentic writing process, she very quickly engages them in meaningful activity. Watching Pegi apply her high level of energy and enthusiasm to her expertise as a writer, staff developer, teacher, and learner is like opening a window to a breath of fresh air and being rewarded with a view of a glorious landscape as well.
Carol G. Hittleman, Ed.D. Long Island University, NY
You beautifully described the complex process of creating a story that chronicles the experiences of a young refugee girl. While the subject was sobering for our children, you presented it with remarkable sensitivity and resonance. ...Thanks for a wonderful day of art and culture, thoughtful insight, and literary inspiration!
Roger Mummert, Syosset, NY School District
...Many students went back to their classrooms in awe after viewing the slides [during The Whispering Cloth presentation] and listening to your personal experience at the refugee camp. You also let students know that you are a writer of many genres. They were impressed with the amount of revisions you had to make in your newest book, I See Me, and the humorous side of a creative mind....
Diane Forster, Teacher, Annie Vinton School, Mansfield, CT
Thank you, again, for coming to Crystal Lake School. I, too, am thinking about many of the poems the kids wrote. the slavery poems (especially) blew me away!
Jeanne Mzulick, Parent, and children's author
Thank you for providing our students with an experience that will not only enhance their writing and appreciation of literature, but will also broaden their world views and help to open their hearts and minds. One week following the last day of your visit, our schools are still reverberating from the impact you made on all of us...
Caroline Pond, Matawan-Aberdeen, NJ School District
You must have been pretty tired after your two very full days here. Everyone really enjoyed your shows at TollGate. Our principal was very pleased and mentioned especially the respect and wonderful manner you showed the children. I can't thank you enough for jumping to the challenge and solving our crisis!
Mary Pat Berends, TollGate School, Pennington, NJ