I BOOK ORDERING
taught elementary school for 10 years (both primary and intermediate
ages) and have written both novels and picture books, so I'm comfortable
with elementary school students as well as middle schoolers and
have experience speaking to K-12, teachers, librarians, and general
adult audiences. Bottom line: I enjoy talking to any group that
is interested in children's books.
SIZE OF EACH SESSION:
size of the audience doesn't matter to me, as long as there is a
good PA system. I've spoken to as many as 1,600, and as few as two.
and two long tables to display my books on. That's it.
OF SESSIONS PER DAY:
simple answer is four per day.
I prefer to work closely with the coordinator to set up a schedule
that works for them. Often this simply turns out to be four large
group presentations, with kids divided by age. There is an alternate
approach, though, that I'm finding very valuable:
with 2 large group assemblies, (1 primary, 1 intermediate, 45-50
minutes each), then follow up with small group Q&A sessions
(length of each determined by the number of students in the school
minus kindergarten -- they aren't really ready developmentally --
but totalling no more than two hours). This way the kids hear my
take on the writing process in the large group sessions, then go
back to the classroom and discuss it, and with the teacher's help
come up with questions that reflect exactly where they are in the
writing process themselves. So when they return for the small group
it's more interactive and I can tailor what I talk about specifically
to meet their needs. The feedback I've gotten on this approach from
kids, teachers, and principals has been very positive, and it doubles
their time with me.
my teaching experience, I have a pretty good idea of what teachers
want kids to hear from an author, and so I focus on the writing
process, beginning with humorous stories of how I got this or that
idea, then developed it into a scene, or chapter, or book. I discuss
the importance of character development, and the choice of setting
and its impact on the story. There is lots of emphasis on
too, complete with drafts from various phases. And of course I answer
questions and do a reading. My goal with all of the above is to
be entertaining and fun, but more importantly to help demystify
the writing process as much as possible, and give the kids concrete
ideas on how they can approach it the next time they sit down in
front of blank paper or a blank screen.
IN MY BOOKS THAT COULD BE TIED IN WITH CLASSROOM CURRICULUM:
Eye of the Stone - self-esteem, peer pressure, race, religion,
tolerance, cultural studies, father-son relationships.
Going to be Famous - competition, friendship, honesty, fame,
math: time and measurement.
- family, single parenting, divorce, sibling relationships,
Call Me Stupid - literacy, self-esteem, learning disabilities,
friendship, schools, desert life.
Shoes - moving, family, brothers and sisters, peer pressure,
personal finances, tarantulas.
to the Moon - jumping to conclusions, problem solving, family,
teeth, tooth fairy, figurative language, Appalachia.
Soap! Don't Forget the Soap! - folk tales, forgetfulness, perseverance,
motherly love, figurative language, Appalachia.
Regular Flood of Mishap - family, forgiveness, figurative language,
Be Comin' Round the Mountain - friendship, figurative language,
Kids' Guide to Building Forts - design and construction, following
I Believe: Kids Talk About Faith - religious perspectives,
tolerance, global studies.
Our Skin: Kids Talk About Race - ethnic relations, tolerance,
. . . so many positive comments from teachers . . . we now have
kids pulling out notebooks and furiously jotting down writing ideas
throughout the day." - Connie Baker, Librarian, Hazelwood Elementary
School, Renton, Washington
. . fabulous presentations. Teachers reported that their students
went back to class and wrote. What great inspiration!" - Karen
Wedeking, Librarian, Beaverton, Oregon
. . . a great workshop on writing for children. Clearly, every person
felt she or he learned a lot and left feeling enthusiastic and energized."
- Martha Moutray, Director - Writing Works Center, University of
wonderful experience for students and staff; low-key, humorous style;
answered questions at a level students understood" - Irene
Golden, Principal, Corvallis, Oregon
as a teacher was obvious . . . very entertaining and shows a great
ability to gear the presentation to different age groups . . .very
inspirational . . . I wholeheartedly recommend inviting Tom Birdseye
to your school." - Catriona Moran, Principal, Nishihmachi International
School, Tokyo, Japan
speaking, his fee is $1,250 a day, plus expenses.
should be presented following the last presentation on the last
day. For further information,
especially about the expenses (travel, hotel, and meals), click
the "Arrange An Appearance" button and see "General
Information on the Cost of an Author Appearance" as well as
the 'Honorariums' section near the bottom of "How to Plan an