For a list of ways to get the most from a visit, scroll WAY down.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A SCHOOL VISIT, MAINLY
I said it before: I don't do canned speeches. Your students will get
a presentation that reflects what you tell me works best for your population.
At all age levels, from Pre-K to High School, I show students the wonder and enjoyment of writing -- and how thoughtful, interesting, clever and/or heartfelt writing makes everything better.
I read to students and give a memorable program, sharing fun stories that mainly give insights into storytelling (mine and theirs) and let them understand how books get made (mine and theirs).
Everyone at every age is a writer. Louis and the Dodo and Gorilla Garage are proven favorites. So is the flamingo hand puppet with story pages for a tongue!
Students get to hear about some of my books they liked, and funny tales about my childhood which led me to be a writer. I share nonfiction writing that is interesting and memorable, yet gets the point across. Kids get tips and encouragement on how to make their own writing more factual and engaging. Content is always modified to the age and response of the group. And of course, fun (and irreverent) read-alouds from A is for Zebra, Mom and Dad are Palindromes, and other interesting books.
WIth groups that skew older, there's a greater emphasis on the craft of writing. Nonfiction examples from Are You Normal (National Geographic) and Shark Attack! (Discovery Channel) as well as Robots & The Book of Why (Time for Kids) illustrate how effective and lively writing is achievable for any topic. There's also an exploration of voice and how to put it to work. Focus and clarity of writing are the key elements I bring out here. All students are shown how they have the tools to be powerful writers now. Then I read the gross stuff in my books.
MIDDLE & HIGH SCHOOL
For me, Middle School and High School were when I really discovered the power of writing. I was on school papers, yearbook, and anywhere else I could get my voice heard. A lot of my attitude and love of reading and writing are present in the novel Scrawl. I've been able to communicate through Tod, my anti-hero bully, that a lot can improve via the power of words. Writing is approached as both a sword and a shield. The value of not only being clear, but of being interesting, comes out in the presentations. Students in each group are encouraged to join and guide the discussion based on their own experiences in their school. Natural writing and rewriting are shared with humor and energy. The messages and tone will of course be age-appropriate. Then we talk about nonfiction, and inevitably, my co-writing with James Patterson.
Now... how to maximize my visit to YOUR school:
Students have a far better visit if they know my books.
You don't have to assign all my books -- especially not the Voodoo Revenge Book. But at each grade level, school kids will get exponentially more from my visit if they know who I am and what I've written.
Then, when I pull out a familiar book, they'll gasp. It's true.
1) Spend time with my books before I come.
We covered that already. Familiarity breeds success.
2) Make it a big deal.
I realize this is a huge event in your school, and I take being funny very seriously. I'll make it a show. And a subversively positive and educational one. But they may not get around to ever realizing it.
If there's a school paper or TV station, I'll do an interview. If there's a way to set up a lunch for some reason: they won a writing contest, or a raffle, I'm happy to oblige. But please don't make me pick a winner of anything. Everybody's a winner in my book.
3) Arrange for books to arrive in advance for me to sign.
I've got books for every age kid, and in all different price ranges. I've often been asked to bring the books with me for students. If I'm presenting driving distance from New York City, that's possible.
Otherwise, there are a few ways to arrange this. Via your local bookseller or I can arrange to have them sent from the publishers. When we reach that point, I can send you an order form to customize for your students.
4) Talk to me.
Let's discuss how we can customize a visit to your school that won't be forgotten. Just click here. Then the fun really begins.
-- Mark Shulman