I love speaking at elementary schools. In a full-day visit I will do three presentations and also autograph books. Presentations can be assemblies and/or workshops. Large assemblies are fine, but workshops work best with smaller groups of 50 – 75 students of similar age. Occasionally I’m asked to speak at K-8 schools. I enjoy speaking with the older students. It makes for a nice change of pace. With older students I usually I talk more about the business of writing and publishing and let students ask lots of questions. From a host at one such school: “I was amazed at how much the students learned from you. You had those eighth graders engaged! That’s a feat unparalleled at this point in the year.”
Grade K – 2 assembly (45 min.)
I read aloud from my published books, talk about where some of my story ideas have come from, and use masks to engage children in acting out one of my stories.
Grade 3 – 4 assembly (50 min.)
I talk about where some of my story ideas have come from, read aloud from two of my books, tell a bit about my series chapter books, and share examples of the revision process.
Grade 5 – 6 (or 4 – 5) assembly (55 min.)
I talk about how I became a writer and explain a bit about my writing process and the ideas that gave rise to my books. I also talk about what it’s like to co-write series with Goddess Girls, Heroes in Training, and Grimmtastic Girls co-author, Joan Holub.
Grade 3 – 6 Writing Workshops (45 – 55 min. each)
Choices: 1) How to Plot a Story or 2) How to “Show,” not “Tell.” (Two to three classes of students of similar age work best for workshops.)
Comments about my school visits…
“I can’t thank you enough for the marvelous job you did with both the assemblies and the workshops. Teacher after teacher kept telling us how inspired your writing workshops made them–they got such great ideas for teaching writing to young children….You were personally such a delightful person to work with, too. We are still glowing from the experience.”
“Teachers and students continue to tell me how much they enjoyed your presentations. I was especially impressed by how smoothly you incorporated real content about writing with an entertaining talk. What talent!”
“What a privilege it was to have you visit and share your work with Daniel Elementary! Writing became FUN, something joyous, in your library workshops. You made writing seem so alive and exciting, and it was contagious and captivating for our students. Each participant took away a pearl of learning. Writing seemed accessible, tangible, and of the heart. Great job!”
Virtual visits are an affordable way to connect with an author when an in-person visit just isn’t possible. I have skyped with classrooms all over the U.S. and even internationally. My fee is $125 per half hour video skype session. Just email me to set up a date/time: email@example.com.
If students buy books before our virtual visit, I can autograph transparent bookplates to mail out if you send me the names.
“Thank you so much for talking to our students, they LOVED it!!!!!! And the teachers were very impressed as well. We handed out the autographed books at the end of the day and everyone was thrilled. I think both sessions went extremely well. I am very pleased.”
—Theresa Kemp, All Saints Regional Catholic School, Glen Cove, New York, January 2013
“Suzanne was delightful and engaging. Students had prepared questions to ask, and she was interesting and enlightening. We will be doing Skype visits in the future without a doubt.”
—New Rochelle/Trinity Elementary, April 2011
Looking for more information on how to skype with an author and names of other authors who do virtual visits?Check out www.onlineauthorvisits.com (I am a member.)
I enjoy speaking at conferences. I have been a keynote speaker or featured speaker at many educational conferences for teachers and librarians, and have spoken at writing conferences as well. If you are interested in having me speak at a conference, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Preparing for a Visit
First things first…
To reserve your school visit date(s) on my calendar, send me an email confirming the agreed upon date(s) and fee. That’s all I require in the way of a contract. If an invoice or other paperwork is required by your school district or PTSA please let me know in advance and send me any forms I need to fill out so I may be paid on the day of the visit.
Getting students ready…
I’ve found that school visits are most successful when students are familiar with my books. Ideally, students should read (or have read aloud to them), at least two of my books prior to my visit. Click here for a list of my books. I’ve also posted information on how to order my books. By the way, almost all of my books are listed with Accelerated Reader and have quizzes available through the AR program.
Choose the programs you’d like me to present…
I will do three (3) presentations per day*plus autographing (if you choose to sell books). Large assemblies are not a problem, but workshops work best with groups of 50 – 75 students of similar age. Please allow 10-15 minutes between presentations for set-up as you compose a schedule from the choices above.
*If you have half-day kindergarteners who aren’t at school during a primary assembly time, I’m willing to add a short fourth (20 – 25 minute) session to accommodate them.
The week before I arrive…
Send me a copy of the day’s 3-presentation schedule.
The day of my visit…
Please have the room where I’ll be speaking set up and ready to go. I’ll plan to arrive at least twenty to thirty minutes before the first assembly is scheduled to start.
Here’s a short introduction you can copy and use if you’d like:
(Point to table displaying my books): We are pleased to have the author of all these books here with us today. Most of you have had the opportunity to read or hear her books during the last several weeks. Today you’ll find out how she came to write some of her stories, and a bit about her life as a writer. Please show her what terrific listeners you are as we welcome Suzanne Williams.
With large groups I prefer that students sit on the floor, with chairs around the periphery for teachers and other adults.
For assembly presentations it’s nice to be introduced to students before I speak–it gets them ready to listen.
Here’s what I’ll need:
- a data projector (for showing PowerPoint slides). I can bring my own computer, or I can plug a memory stick into a school computer.)
- a screen
- a microphone (a wireless type is preferable.)
- a long table (at the front of the room–for displaying my books and “props.”)
- water (to sip throughout the day, thanks!)
- a document camera or an overhead projector
- a screen
- a microphone
- water (to sip throughout the day, thanks!)
- Students need not bring writing materials to the workshops as we will do everything together as group guided practice.
Please provide me with a lunch, allowing a one-hour lunch break if possible. If time permits, a visit to a nearby restaurant is nice, but if there’s no place close by, a fast-food type sandwich (or bagel with cream cheese) is fine. I love being a part of special staff luncheons, but I’m not fond of cafeteria food!
I love autographing books, and can sign during breaks in the day and after school as needed (as long as my schedule allows). Please have names to whom books are to be autographed clearly written on stickies attached to each book. I can also sign adhesive book plates to leave behind for any “late” sales. In addition, I will bring a master sheet of an autographed bookmark that can be copied and distributed to students who would like one; please encourage students to not ask me to sign slips of paper.
How to Order Suzanne’s Books for Speaking Programs
Usually my in-print books can be supplied through a local children’s bookseller. Sometimes (ask!) local booksellers will even help with sales at a school before or during an author visit. Most offer a 20% discount off the cover price. If my books are not in the store, the bookseller should still be able to order them for you–given a few weeks advance notice. To find local, independent bookstores in your area go to IndieBound.
Amazon and Barnes & Noble have nearly all my books, even the ones that are out of stock or out of print at my publishers. These on-line bookstores can usually deliver books by mail within a few days. To find out what they have, do a search on “Williams, Suzanne.” You’ll want to cross-check the titles that come up against my list of books before you order, however, since Suzanne Morgan Williams also writes for children. All of my published books are fiction.
If you have enough lead time, you can order books directly from publishers and receive a 40% discount. Tell the customer service/promotions person that you are ordering books for a school author visit, and the date of the visit. Allow at least six weeks for delivery. You should be able to return unsold copies to the publisher.
To pre-order titles from the Grimmtastic Girls series at a 40% discounted rate contact Scholastic customer service at: 1-888-724-1872 X 8015 or via email: email@example.com
Let the sales rep know that you are hosting an author appearance and that you were referred by Scholastic Trade in NYC. Your rep will need the following: 1 – Event Date 2 – Delivery Address
3 – ISBN(s) for the book(s) you would like to order 4 – Quantity you need.
Allow 2 – 3 weeks for delivery.
If you already have a Scholastic account, please let the rep know. Otherwise, you will need to pre-pay for the books with a credit card. If you don’t want to pay via credit card you can submit paperwork to set up a “Retailer Account”.
Please keep in mind that books go out of stock or (worse) out of print rapidly these days–sometimes without my knowledge or even the knowledge of my editors. For that reason, all of the books listed below may or may not be available at the time that you order. However, these are the ones that I am fairly certain are still available:
- Library Lil(ISBN 0-14-056837-9, $6.99 paperback),
call Penguin/Putnam at 1-800-526-0275 and ask for the Author Appearance Desk.
- To order titles from the Goddess Girls series, Thunder Girls series, or Heroes in Training series (Aladdin): 1-800-976-1726 or 1-877-989-0009. More info about author appearance orders can be found at this link.
- Titles in the Princess Power or Fairy Blossoms series are available through online bookstores or Harper Collins as e-books.
For a three program schedule, my fees are:
- $1300/day for schools within Washington State, plus travel expenses as needed
- $1500/day for out-of-state schools, plus travel expenses
- I offer a 10% discount on my speaking fee for three or more (consecutive) days of visits in one area.
Please contact me for conference fee information.
“I just wanted to thank you again for doing such a wonderful school assembly at Woodside Elementary here in Mill Creek. Your easy way of communicating with kids made for a fun educational experience for them and has doubtless inspired some of the kids to try their hand at writing.”
—Mickey Gallagher, Children’s Services Librarian, Mill Creek Library, Mill Creek, WA
“Suzanne’s books have an appeal to students particularly in the primary grades. She does a very clever student-involved presentation with her book Mommy Doesn’t Know My Name. Her chapter books are hilarious, and they offer a chance for low-level readers to find better success in reading. And, of course, her book Library Lil is a crowd pleaser — Suzanne told the history behind this book that kept all grades interested. Her performances were informative and held the interest of the intended audience. I would have her back any time.”
—Carol Steen, Librarian, Longview, WA
“Mrs. Williams brings a passion for words and stories to her presentations that engages and involves the students. Her calm and assured manner draws the students into the worlds of her stories and has them hanging on every word…I was pleased that [her] age-appropriate and fun programs were also educational. She was warm and genuine whether she was reading to the students, answering the questions of our Author Ambassadors, or chatting with the teachers. Her background as a librarian makes her an organized joy—thorough and dependable in her plans, arrangements, and presentations…She connected with our kids on their level and made creating and writing and publishing something that each of them is capable of doing. Mrs. Williams says, ‘Strong readers rule,’ and I see that she is a strong performer who encourages and proves that saying.”
–Fran Woodruff, Media Specialist Edgewood Elementary School, Homewood, AL
“The children at our school really enjoyed Suzanne’s presentation. She had many students participate in skits and had lots of student interaction. The children enjoyed her books very much!”
—Gloria Bailey, Librarian, Northlake Elementary, Longview, WA
“Our reading council invited Suzanne Williams to spend a week within the Elko County School District. She visited nine schools and participated in two evening events. She was very easy to work with and very accommodating. Her visit required traveling to schools in outlying communities, and she worked well with all the schools.”
—Robbie Nickel, Elko County Reading Council/Elko County School District
“Having been a former school librarian, she could relate to the children and the teachers well. She is a very enjoyable person. When we had a minor glitch with the audio-visual equipment, she went right on as if nothing had occurred—very unflappable.”
—Patricia Koria, Library Media Specialist, Etta J. Wilson School, Newark, DE