Thank you for your interest in my work as a Visiting Author in schools.
When schools invite me, they can choose between three entirely
different and exciting day-long programs:
1) Ohio Heroes Day -- unfolding the history of our state
through the stories of the heroes featured in my book, Heroes
of Ohio: 23 True Tales of Courage and Character.
2) Tall Tales Day -- spellbinding students with hilarious
retellings of favorite stories from my book Ripsnorting Whoppers!
Humor from America’s Heartland.
3) Ohio Animals Day -- Ohio animal stories, covering the
Ice Age, the Moundbuilders, the Shawnee, pioneers, Civil
War, the Amish, Lake Erie and Ohio’s zoos, parks, forests
and farms, all from my book Critters, Flitters & Spitters:
24 Amazing Ohio Animal Tales.
Each of these days includes: a comprehensive Study Guide
sent in advance, school assemblies, ‘Lunch with the
Author,’ three half-hour visits with smaller groups
(two or three of the older classes combined), book sales
at wholesale prices, and personalized book-signings.
My fee usually falls somewhere between $500 and $950. For
schools located beyond a comfortable driving distance from
my home in Cincinnati, whatever the fee, I request an additional
$85 to cover the cost of overnight lodging. When I stay on
to do an evening program, there is an additional $150 fee.
There are no add-ons for mileage or meals -- I cover those
expenses. My fees can sometimes be reduced for various reasons.
My book Heroes
of Ohio, written at a 4th-6th grade reading
level, is the basis of Ohio Heroes Day. Some schools choose
to have me present the morning assembly as a "one-man
show." Other schools choose to involve as many as 28
students (usually 4th graders) as my 'co-stars' in the assembly,
re-enacting the heroes from my book. These options are spelled
out in the Study Guide I supply schools that invite me to
visit. We should discuss these options well in advance and
structure the assembly to best serve your school. Either
way, the assembly includes costumes, props, music, pageantry,
drama, humor, audience participation and (optional) recognition
of a local hero from your community. Seeing and/or participating
in this assembly, your students will understand that history
thrills us with stories of real people, that Ohio has given
the world great heroes, and that everyone can be a hero.
Tales Day is based on Ripsnorting
Whoppers!, a collection
of Ohio Tall Tales, such as a cucumber vine growing so rapidly
in the “richest soil in Richland County” it nearly
choked the fellow who planted it; a pet wildcat that ate
balls of yarn and later gave birth to a litter of kittens
wearing sweaters; the summer when it got so hot, the corn
in the fields popped into popcorn; and the world’s
fastest dog -- when he ran full speed, it took three people
to see him!
Ohio Animals Day is very similar to Ohio Heroes Day --
substituting animals for heroes.
The storytelling and theatrics in these assemblies delight
schoolchildren and inspire them to love Ohio history and
American folklore and to become more enthusiastic readers.
“Lunch with the Author” allows a dozen of your
student writers to dine with me and be praised for their
abilities. I present a pin-on button to each of my lunch
friends, which proclaims them to be “A Whopper of a
Writer.” I have noticed that these buttons are worn
proudly by the students during the rest of the day.
The three half-hour visits that follow are most meaningful
for the older grades. These visits focus on the following
elements of good Writing:
1) Use “Juicy” Words (sensory imagery, ie. words
aimed at the five senses)
2) Cut the Clutter (edit out extraneous words)
3) Suspense! (the best way to grab a reader’s attention)
I also share a little of myself -- my family, my career,
how I got started, what I’m working on now, etc. All
this helps kids feel that they have gotten to know a ‘real’ author
and prompts a lively question-and-answer session which I
direct during the final minutes of each visit.
The Study Guides I provide are full of tips on how to make
the most of the day and how best to prepare the students.
You can view these Study Guides on my website: www.sowash.com
The underlying messages of my work in the schools are:
1) Books, storytelling, history, reading and writing are
2) With the younger children, I emphasize the importance
of ‘following directions.’ I also explore the
difference between a tall tale and a lie --tall tales are
joyful falsehoods; other kinds of falsehood can be harmful.
3) With the older children, I explore career paths and the
importance of writing skills: Find what you love to do, become
good at it, figure out a way to get paid to do it, and you’ll
be happy in your work. I personify this point with my skills
in writing, storytelling and music. I try to inspire young
people to strive to become heroes.
Schools I visit are expected to offer my books for purchase
by students and staff simply by sending home a ‘send-home
form’ which I provide. These items are provided at
a 25% discount: $10 for softbound, $15 for hardbound. The
students return the forms and checks or cash to the School
Office. Checks are made out to me. The school has no involvement
except to send home the forms and collect them when they
come back in. On the day of the visit, I will bring along
a good supply of my books and fill the orders at that time.
No shipping, no fuss.
Please feel free to share this letter with other educators.
Please call me at the number below to discuss further details.
I visit about 100 schools each year -- call soon to secure
the date you want.
When I visit schools in distant parts of the state, I prefer
to have more than one day in the area. Please inform other
educators in your district that you are thinking of inviting
me; ask them to consider inviting me on the day before or
after the day I visit your school. Nowadays I am fairly well
known; I think you’ll find that other schools will
be enthusiastic about the idea of inviting me.
338 Milton Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
phone: (513) 721-1241
P.S. If you wish, I can supply you with plenty of references
from other schools I have visited in your part of the state.