Kindergarten, Grades One and Two
I understand the need to keep these presentations short and snappy, not over half an hour for K-1. Roundup at the Palace, Loon Lake Fishing Derby, Rough Day at Loon Lake, and A Winter's Yarn are especially fun to do with this age. I introduce the book, giving a quick summary of where the idea came from and how it grew, then read it, with or without slides depending on the venue, using props for full-fun effect. After the story and a related stretch, I give a brief summary of the development of the book, followed by time for questions and discussion.
Forestry A to Z, my only work of non-fiction, works best as a launching point for discussion about forests, trees, wood products, and environmental sustainability, referencing the book's illustrations and information rather than reading it in its entirety.
For grade two, my talks follow a similar format to my kindergarten presentations, but go deeper into the creative process. While still focusing on picture books, I show more of the path an idea follows to go from my head to their school/library. Rough sketches and storyboards serve as tangible examples of how ideas develop. These sessions are 45 minutes, including time for questions and discussion.
Grades Three to Five/Six and Seven
This is a wonderful age for author readings. Many children already see themselves as authors, so I encourage the sense of sharing experiences among peers. I start with a general discussion of where ideas come from, then focus on the specific origin and growth of either Five Stars for Emily, Forestry A to Z, or my newest book, Between Shadows. I then read short selections to stimulate students' curiosity and participation. For example, I relate Forestry A to Z to environmental studies and questions relating to the origin of everyday products we use in our homes. The free teachers' guide for Five Stars for Emily (available at orcabook.com) is packed with creative, curriculum-connected ideas teachers can use either as an introduction or a follow-up to my visit. After reading Between Shadows, children have responded by discussing loss in their own lives. These sessions last an hour, including time at the end for questions and comments.
Sketch by Dean Griffiths for Loon Lake Fishing Derby