NOTE: In-person school visits are not viable at the moment. If you are still interested in having me in your classroom, please contact me about a virtual visit and I would be happy to try and work something out.
Are you looking for a middle grade author to visit your school during the coming school year? Maybe I could be that author! I offer dynamic assemblies and workshops for grades 4 through 9. If you’re interested, feel free to click on this brochure for more information:
“I read ALAN COLE IS NOT A COWARD out loud to my 5th and 6th grade English Language Arts classes. They loved it. It was the last book of the year, and I read it all the way up to the end, when the kids are starting to smell summer coming and get a bit antsy about still being in school. But when it was time to read ALAN COLE, my kids were eager, still, silent, and listening. Their reactions to the book were also priceless. They laughed out loud, gasped, and groaned almost in unison. They lived Alan’s story along with him and you could tell they were feeling his emotions as if they were their own. In fact, my kids loved ALAN COLE so much than when the next school year came around and ALAN COLE DOESN’T DANCE was released, I had a record number of middle schoolers (more than half of our school!) in my classroom for our optional lunchtime book club. They loved reading the book. Eric Bell runs a twitter account for one of the characters and it was such a fun way for my kids to interact with the book. We read together, talk about what happened, and tweeted with Zack.
We were lucky enough to have a Skype session with Eric Bell. He engaged the kids in a fun conversation about his book and his writing. He explained his writing process and what that was like for him. They already loved and respected him, and they enjoyed hearing his thoughts and ideas. It was great for them to hear a professional author talk about his process. As a teacher, I can talk until I’m blue in the face about revision being a part of writing, but it means so much more when they hear it from a real author, with examples from a book they’ve already read and loved. Despite doing their own revisions and edits, they were shocked and excited to hear about some of the changes he made to make the book what it became. This idea that professional writing doesn’t immediately look polished but is something that evolves and changes over time was mind-blowing to some of them who envision a professional writer as someone who can spit out perfect sentences from day 1. The idea that professional writers work hard and don’t just have ideas flow magically onto a finished book was also great for them to hear. To see firsthand how the book they love gets written and revised, to see that good writing comes from making mistakes and correcting them, to hear from an author they love about the tools of writing, is so much more powerful than any classroom lesson.
Skyping with Eric showed my students how much work it takes to write a book, how much fun it can be, and what their true potential as authors really can be. Our conversation tied directly into my learning goals as a writing teacher, inspired even more curiosity in my students, and engaged them in a way they found both fun and educational.”
Some quotes from my students:
“He was really nice. He answers all of your questions without laughing and in a way that didn’t spoil the sequel before we read it.”
“He was really good answering our questions without rambling.”
“He gave every kid a turn to ask a question.”
“He writes great books and has a great sense of humor. It was fun to talk to his character on Twitter. He took silliness seriously.”
“He gave us great teasers about the sequel without giving anything away.”
“He talked about different stages of writing and gave us really good writing advice.”
“He took us seriously, listened to our questions, and gave us great advice.”
“He had serious answers for silly questions.”
“He tolerated all of our questions about the characters’ crushes and relationships.”
“He addressed us not like little kids but like adults. He didn’t look down on us and that was really good.”
“Some people don’t answer our questions. He answered all of our questions really directly and sometime gave more in depth information, but always answered our questions.”
“Some people if they are talking will call on someone with a raised hand and skip the rest of what they were going to say, but he answered questions completely and then made sure to call on people afterward.”
-Wendy Lawrence, Middle School English Teacher, Summers-Knoll School, Ann Arbor, MI