Using Stories for Growing People for Educational Enrichment

A note from the author:
Many parents and teachers struggle with finding age-appropriate literature for their kids. This is especially tricky for preteens and early adolescents. I have tried to make my books simultaneously challenging, realistic and wholesome. While others might disagree, I believe they are quite appropriate for preteens. Kids in my stories deal with some difficult issues, and there is some conflict between parents and children, but this is in the context of caring family relationships. Vocabulary is sometimes challenging, but I've tried to keep it rated "PG."

Pssst. Don't tell the kids, but I have constructed these works to encourage critical thinking and creativity as well as reading for fun. Here you will find my suggestions about how you might use them. I welcome your suggestions. I hope you will find new ways to use these works to teach some of your favorite lessons. If you use these works with your kids, either at home or at school, please send feedback and suggestions to share so that your colleagues can benefit from your experience.

Looking for a different way to get kids engaged in a story? Try acting it out! With The Wish, the Wisdom and the Web you can get the whole class involved and put those kinesthetic learners to work. Everybody can help with the sound effects. This one-act eco-drama works well alongside your science lessons on ecology or invertebrates. Whether you use it as a cooperative classroom read-aloud or mount a lavish stage production, I hope you have fun with it. (For safety reasons, if you use real props I'd advise "climbing" the ropes horizontally.) This is free for your use in the classroom, but please contact me for permission for any other use. I'd love to hear about your experience with this. Download pdf file

I welcome opportunities to talk with readers about my work. I especially enjoy leading discussions in which kids connect their own experiences to the characters and events in my stories.

Summer provides unique opportunities for enrichment reading. In keeping with the 2008 "Catch the Reading Bug" theme for Summer Youth Programs in libraries in Maryland and elsewhere across the country, I have developed two new presentations.

I am happy to work with you to develop a program that meets the needs of your group. Rates are negotiable. Here are some more of my favorite speaking topics.

  • Thinking About Thinking (for ages 9-12)

    Using Danger: Long Division as a starting point, the author leads children in a discussion abouut how brains work, how people learn new skills, how people learn how to think, and how we store things in our long term memory. Children find concrete eamples of common thinking errors, such as overgeneralization, jumping to conclusions and mind-reading.

  • Nurturing Resilience (for adults who care for children)

    Using Danger: Long Division as a starting point, the author discusses how some kids manage to bounce back after failure and how the adults in their lives can help.

  • How Decisions Form Character (for ages 10-15)

    Using Finch Goes Wild as a starting point, the author leads a discussion of how people make decisions. The concept of a risk-benefit analysis is explored, with concrete examples from the book and from real life.

  • Art and Nature (for ages 8-12)

    These workshops help participants incorporate real-life details into My Adventure as a Birder, My Adventure with Reptiles, My Adventure on the Lake, or My Adventure with Arthropods. They can be adapted for school groups, home schoolers, camp groups, after-care, scouts and birthday parties. Author prefers outdoor venue.

  • Designing a Science Project (for ages 8-12)

    The author discusses the basic principles of the scientific method. Children participate in cooperative grouup discussions to formulate a testable hypothesis, list relevant variables and design a fair test. Brainstorming will help participants find creative and realistic details for My Adventure as a Scientist.

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To find out more about how to arrange author visits, send an email indicating your location, the size of the group and your preferred topic.