I offer a variety of in-person and virtual programs tailored to pre-school through adult audiences. Prior to each presentation, I ask schools and other groups about specific topics and points they would like covered. In all my programs I aim to inform, entertain, and inspire groups of all ages to want to write, too.
Programs for grown-ups and book signings can be added to any of the programs.
Contact me for more information on any of these programs, including rates.
Story Times/Events for Pre-Schoolers
Read-alouds of 1 or 2 selected picture book(s), with Q&A and interactive follow-up fun based on each book:
Esther’s Hanukkah Disaster, followed by a call-response game in which participants match stuffed animals with silly and/or appropriate props as gifts. Example: “Would this snake like sneakers?”
Paulie’s Passover Predicament, followed by volunteers reenacting the book’s plot using stuffed animals, a cardboard stove, and other props. Coloring sheets available with outlines of seder plates for listeners to decorate at home or in classrooms.
Don’t Call Me Sidney, followed by fun call and response rhyming. Examples: “What would this parrot like to eat?” As I hold up a stuffed carrot, kids yell “A carrot!” “Can you find a rhyme for “rhinoceros? This is hard!” Kids, giggling but undaunted, suggest: “Binoceros! Trinoceros!”
What’s Up with This Chicken?, followed by volunteers’ re-enactment of humorous parts of story using props including a chicken puppet and egg-collecting basket. A craft activity can be added, transforming pre-cut-apart egg cartons into baby chicks.
Gracie Brings Back Bubbe’s Smile, followed by a mini-call- and-response Yiddish lesson. Sheets are available with a matching Yiddish-English words game for listeners to try at home or in the classroom.
“Many thanks for yesterday’s GREAT event! You (and Sidney) were certainly a ‘hit.’ I was especially impressed with the care you put into every signing. You make each copy a true keepsake.” —bookstore manager
I create each presentation according to the needs and wishes of the individual school. Planning takes into account the size and age group of the audience, requests to support ongoing curriculum, and ways to complement specific language arts concepts and skills. Whatever the age group, I allow plenty of time for questions. If questions come up in follow-up classroom discussions, I am happy to answer them by email or the form on the Contact page.
All programs include a signed book for the school library or classroom, plus written suggestions for follow-up activities.
Schools have the option to add evening programs for grown-ups. Many schools choose to arrange for the sale of signed books, often as a fundraiser.
“MEET A REAL LIVE AUTHOR”
Young kid-friendly presentation on how a book moves from initial idea to publication. I stress the Importance of revising, with slides of my messy revisions, editors’ comments, and illustrators’ revised sketches. Based on prior consultation with the school, I match my terms to those teachers use, e.g., drafts might be “sloppy copies.” Schools may choose to have me start the presentation with a read-aloud of one of my books, using projected slides. Classrooms studying and/or raising chickens may request a reading of What’s Up with This Chicken?
“Your presentation is lovely, low-key, and filled with information to help children appreciate authors and their work.” —second grade teacher
“Thanks for coming to enlighten and inspire our students.” —first grade teacher
Grades 3-5 (Five Program Options)
“HOW AUTHORS WRITE”
Same as program for K-2, but with more complexity, e.g., dealing with rejection, role of an agent. Can be combined with programs below.
“MAKING CHARACTERS COME ALIVE IN FICTION AND NARRATIVES”
Interactive program on how to show (not just tell} characters’ personalities, conflicts, feelings, dreams, and more. Includes slide show with examples from my own work. Students practice ways to show, for example replacing neutral verbs with more evocative ones (stomp instead of walk; wolf down instead of eat). Single or multiple sessions with assignments between sessions available.
“USE YOUR SENSES TO MAKE WRITING COME ALIVE”
Interactive program on use of sensory details to create vivid, compelling descriptions. Includes slide show with examples of my own work. Students come up with rich adjectives, adverbs, comparisons, and verbs to describe settings (the school cafeteria, the beach), objects (a stuffed elephant, a new bike), and experiences (going to the beach, helping at a toddler’s birthday party). Single or multiple sessions with assignments between sessions available.
“REVISING = GOOD WRITING”
Combines “Making Characters Come Alive in Fiction and Narratives” and “Using Senses to Make Writing Come Alive,” with emphasis on the importance and how-to of revision. Especially helpful for preparing students to write narrative essays. Includes a slide show with examples from my own work and how I changed sentences to make them better. Students practice how to make a dull sentence shine and come up with evocative adjectives, adverbs, similes and metaphors, and verbs—all to let the reader picture scenes, understand real or fictional characters, and enjoy what they’re reading. Single or multiple sessions with assignments between sessions available.
“Your presentation was amazing and we were thrilled to have the kids hear your message about writing from a real author. They have referred back to your comments every day since your visit. You really connected with them.” —fourth grade teacher
“You have a wonderful way of giving feedback to children so that they hear what can be improved and yet feel positive about what they have accomplished.” —enrichment volunteer parent
“Your visit is definitely one of the highlights of the school year!” —fourth grade teacher
“THE ROLLER COASTER LIFE OF A CHILDREN’S BOOK AUTHOR”
Informative, entertaining presentation for libraries, community centers, assisted living facilities, adult education groups, and parent organizations. Projected slides show my progress and setbacks from initial ideas through revisions, then rejection after rejection, acceptance (yay!), editors’ sometimes unwelcome feedback, illustrators’ sketches and final art, and eventually to the books’ release. Q&A follows. Children are welcome. Signed books will be available for purchase.
“Thank you! The residents were so interested and engaged by your presentation!”—activities director, assisted living facility
“HOW MY NOVEL BECAME A MUSICAL”
Account of my journey that began when 2 high school students in a small town in Utah asked permission to turn my long out-of-print award-winning novel Me and the Weirdos into a musical. This led to our conferring on the script and lyrics and eventually to my husband and me flying out to Salt Lake City in the dead of winter and driving 5 and a half hours to Blanding, Utah for the premiere of what turned out to be a wonderful musical, Me and the Krinkles. Meeting these two talented young playwrights-composers-lyricists-directors-singers-poster designers and their families and spending time in the town, where my husband and I were treated like royalty, was the experience of a lifetime.
Back home, inspired by the Utah students’ enthusiasm for my no longer attainable book, I revised it and came out with a print-on-demand edition. Doreen Buchinski, the new edition’s designer and illustrator, can augment this program, describing her process. Q&A follows the presentation. Signed books are available for purchase.
This program can be adapted for grades 4-12.