Archive for School Visits

Fun Idea for Author Visits: Decorating Doors

You’ve heard of the Doors of Dublin? You know about Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception? This is like that, in the sense that, okay, there are doors.

But instead of Jim Morrison, you get . . . The Doors of James Preller!

To celebrate my recent visit, a grades 3-5 elementary school had a contest where classes could “win a classroom visit” with author James Preller. The idea, I gather, was to decorate a door by encouraging (innocent!) passers-by to read any one of my books.

Here’s a few highlights . . .








A Few Shining Samples of Student Art, via Texas!

It’s one of the nice things about visiting schools. After a presentation, teachers sometimes ask their classes to quick write “thank you” notes, which often include student artwork.

And, of course, who doesn’t love art created by young people? It’s so pure and open-hearted.

Let’s do this!

Scan 1

This is by Loyi.

Scan 4

From Bryant.

Scan 5

A self-portrait from Kevin.

Scan 6

Leonardo put us together in this one, both holding books.

Scan 7

Jennifer drew this one. Don’t you love the red hair?

Texas 9

Another smiling self-portrait, this one from Italiaim. (Hope I got that right.)

Texas 8

By Fernanda. So lovely.

And once again all I can feel is fortunate.

Blessed, lucky, honored, grateful, touched.

All those things and more.

Thanks guys, and thank you to anyone who has ever drawn a picture for me, or just said “thank you” after a presentation.

I carry these in my heart.

Teachers, Librarians: Free Signed Book & Poster Offer



Glad to see this poster taped to the door of my local bookstore, “I LOVE BOOKS” in Delmar, NY.

As it turns out, I’ve got some spare posters in my possession, plus copies of the new books.

I’ll be happy to mail out a signed book/poster combo to the first ten teachers, librarians who would be willing to share them with your students.

Just write to me at: and type FREE BOOK in the subject heading. I’ll need an address.

If I’ve ever visited your school, I’d be especially happy to send this along as a “thank you.” And if I haven’t, hey, let’s make it happen!




“Guess the Reader”: A Fun, Easy Way to Promote Literacy in Your School

We should all know, by now, that the best schools celebrate literacy everywhere, all the time. Reading isn’t something that happens in isolation, an hour a day in room 613. An activity done only by “nerds.” Instead, literacy is the environment, the air we breathe. Inclusive of students and teachers, yes. But the staff, too. Everyone gets into the act. Literacy is the habitat in which students thrive, as natural as fish in water.

In schools where literacy is central to the mission, there are happy reminders of books and reading everywhere you turn. It’s a shared activity. An ongoing, daily conversation. Books!

Here’s one easy, fun idea I discovered on a recent school visit to Skoi Yase Elementary School in Waterloo, NY. Essentially: several posters, featuring students and faculty and staff, in a small section of a hallway. The photos below are self-explanatory.

As one teacher said to me, “The kids love it.”

And it sends a powerful message.





Schools Do Author Visits — You Can Tell By the Art In the Hallway!


I’ve said it a hundred times, “Authors don’t do school visits; schools do author visits.”

Like everything else in life, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.

It makes such a difference when a school is invested in an author visit. When they’ve been reading the books, engaged in art projects, talking and thinking about the upcoming visit. This sense of anticipation prepares the ground for learning.


Usually I can tell what kind of reception I’ll get from the tone of the many emails (or not!) that pass back and forth between the contact person and me. But the telltale moment is when you walk into the school and there it is — that big welcoming sign, the artwork proudly displayed on the walls, the sense that these kids are excited to meet a real, live author. The message is: TODAY IS A BIG DAY FOR OUR SCHOOL!

Because it’s not always that way.


I’ve had some schools where the visit is regarded as something extra, a side note, a little bonus, not central to the school’s mission. And yet, it’s never really about the guest author, it’s about literacy — a love of books, a love for learning. Nevertheless, the kids still have a great time, and many will still be inspired to read and (even) write, but it’s not the same amplification. The impact isn’t as meaningful or, I suspect, lasting.


A long preamble to say that when I walked into Plattekill Elementary the other day, I saw a lot of artwork inspired by my books. I took a few snaps. Thank you to all concerned, especially the talented art teacher who helped make it happen. I’m sorry I didn’t get your name.


And to the student artists? Thank you all, so much, even if I didn’t share your work in today’s post. Great job. I’m flattered and impressed!