It is always a pleasure for me to visit schools and libraries and speak to students and teachers.
I like to talk to the students as fellow writers. We chat about the pleasures and problems of
writing we all share. I structure my talk around the Five Steps of the Writing Process:
Prewriting, First Draft, Respond/Revise, Proofreading, and Publishing. The students and I discuss
the steps and I use examples from my work to illustrate how a book grows from an idea to a book-in-hand.
The point I like to lead the students to is this: they are already writers. When they are given
an assignment, they follow the same steps I do. I encourage the students to read, write, and think.
I talk about writing as a career. The students usually have lots of questions all along the way and
also at the end of our talk. I like the visits to be lively, with lots of interaction. Therefore,
I prefer groups of no more than 75 students at a time. I will structure the talk to fit in a class
period; it can last as long as an hour or as little as half an hour. I can do two speeches a day,
but no more. I encourage the teacher(s) to listen and participate. Students in grades 2, 3 and 4
usually enjoy the talk best. It is not necessary for the students to be familiar with the Five
Steps mentioned above or to be familiar with any of my books, but it is wonderful if they are.
It is wonderful if the teachers have asked the students beforehand to think up questions they'd
like to ask. The only equipment I need is a table, chair, flip chart and markers or chalkboard
and chalk. If the teachers are working on a specific aspect of writing or a specific genre, I'm
happy to adapt my talk to reinforce what they are doing in the classroom. It is very important
to me that I am helping the teachers, complementing and supporting what they are doing. My husband
has been a teacher for more than 30 years, so I know how precious classroom time is and how busy
teachers are. I love having teachers attend my school talks but I must ask that if they do,
they truly attend, and do not use the time to correct papers or do other distracting chores.
I do not charge for my talks. Instead, if you'd like to, I'd be grateful if you would make a
contribution to the Kathleen M. Tripp fund at the Mount Kisco Public Library, 100 Main Street,
Mt. Kisco, NY 10549. To invite me to visit, contact me through AmericanGirl.com.