ROCK-N-ROLL INTO READING AND WRITING
Program length: 45 minutes
ROCK THE RHYME AND RHYTHM, AND WRITE!
Program length: One hour
Am I an author or an illustrator or both? Where’s my office? How do I turn ideas and real-life situations into picture books? Do I ever rewrite sentences and stanzas before they are published? How can students make their own stories rock by adding rhyme, rhythm, and onomatopoeia?
The interactive and energetic presentations above are geared toward young audiences. Using the couplets in Look What I Can Do! along with music and onomatopoeia from Storm Song and City Street Beat, students experience each book’s unique theme in a lively, rhythmic way. From forest habitats to urban settings, they discover how to search for inspiration in their daily surroundings. To emphasize the importance of revision, they become “Super-Duper-Fixer-Uppers,” working with examples of changes I had to make in my titles and content. Even though “It’s not easy…” (a phrase from Look What I Can Do!), children are encouraged to “keep the crazy” and explore the fun in reading and writing.
Where do I write? How do I come up with ideas? What is my method for saving and expanding my ideas? What is my process for creating characters, deciding on a setting, and developing a plot? How do I revise my work?
In this funny and fast-moving presentation geared toward a middle-grade audience, I talk about my journey to publication and give students an insider’s view of the writing business. From the point of inspiration for Just One Thing! and Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head to the final paycheck, students discover the process involved in creating picture books and novels. They’re put to work as my editors and find out which parts of my books required editing and rewriting. We explore how to create interesting characters and how those characters’ actions enhance plot. Students get to see my office, revision notes from my picture books and middle-grade novels, and works-in-progress. They’re encouraged to write both poetry and prose, and keep track of all ideas in a SEEDS file. Mini writing activities are sprinkled throughout the presentation to help even the most antsy students stay focused and involved. By the end of an hour everyone understands why it takes hard work, patience, and a sense of humor to be a writer.
LET’S READ TOGETHER!
Pre-K and K
Program length: 15-20 minutes
While I don’t mind presenting to large groups of very young children, I prefer to connect with them in their classrooms. After a few minutes of poetry, choral reading, and stretches to engage the senses, we sit “criss-cross-applesauce” on the floor for a lively, musical story time. Questions are encouraged!