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 camp, the Providence Hmong neighborhood, ESL class, Hmong in traditional costumes and playing traditional musical instruments and dances.
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.
...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