School Visits

I want to visit YOUR school!

I visit dozens and dozens of schools every year. It’s my favorite part of being an author. I still get to be a teacher.

General Presentation

  • Available to students in grades K-12.
  • No restrictions/limits on the number of students that may attend each session.
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My general author presentation combines my experiences as a teacher and an author.

We begin by talking about the importance of reading and discussing how life-long readers are almost always the most successful, world-rounded, and empathetic.

This leads right into a discussion of what it means to put our name on something – the cover of a book, a homework assignment, a letter, a permission slip. We explore the concept of “your name is your word.”

Next, we talk character. We do this on two levels: We talk about character as a human quality, i.e. the type of person we are when no one is watching; and we talk about the characters in our stories. How do we create them? How do they become fully formed?

Our character discussion leads right into a discussion on process. We talk about how “the real writing takes place during the real writing.” To illustrate this, I use hard-copy examples from my own work and share editorial letters as well as marked-up manuscripts from my editor(s) and agent. Of course, throughout this segment, we draw parallels between what I do as an author to what students do in school.

Next, we shift gears and talk about the covers of books and the work of illustrators. Because many students have visual learning strategies and love to draw and paint, it’s critical that we celebrate the art. We make connections between the illustrator’s process, the author’s process, and the student’s writing process. To help demonstrate this, I share thumbnails, sketches, sample layouts, and uncorrected proofs.

At this point, we go back to talking about writing, specifically my writing life. I share my second grade writing journal, articles I wrote for my high school newspaper, and other early writing samples.

This leads right into a discussion of research. Since many of my books are non-fiction and historical fiction, we discuss the importance of information literacy. I share my research process, and once again, I make connections to what the students are doing in school. Research is similar to detective work, and as a result, it’s vital for students to understand how critical it is to fact-check and evaluate sources.

Finally, we talk about my reading life. We discuss why our reading lives matter. Since it’s critical that students see authors not just as writers, but as readers, I share recent titles I’ve read. I book talk texts from a variety of genres and explain how books teach us about empathy and why it’s so necessary that we see ourselves in books.

The presentation concludes with a question and answer session.

Writing Workshops

  • Available to students in grades 3-7.
  • Maximum of sixty (60) students per session.
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For my writing workshops, we begin by talking about the importance of reading and discussing how life-long readers are almost always the most successful, well-rounded, and empathetic.

Next, we talk about the great children’s book author, Jack Gantos (Dead End in Norvelt, Hole in My Life), and I share the reading advice he shares with young people everywhere.

This leads right into our first writing exercises — one is used by author Matt de la Pena (Last Stop on Market Street) and one is used by author Laurel Snyder (Orphan Island, Charlie & Mouse). I explain the purpose of these exercises and stress the fact that these are exercises that “real” authors do.

Following that, I talk about my writing life. I share my second grade writing journal, articles I wrote for my high school newspaper, and other early writing samples.

Next, we discuss the importance of “checking over our work.” I share tips and devices that will help students with this. We talk about how “the real writing takes place during the real writing.” To illustrate this, I use hard-copy examples from my own work and share editorial letters as well as marked-up manuscripts from my editor(s) and agent. Of course, throughout this segment, we draw parallels between what I do as an author to what students do in school.

Then we talk character. We do this on two levels: We talk about character as a human quality, i.e. the type of person we are when no one is watching; and we talk about the characters in our stories. How do we create them? How do they become fully formed?

This leads into our next writing exercise involving thought bubbles and speech balloons. The shared learning experience helps students add details to their writing. It also helps students capture and hone the voices of their characters. Most importantly, it shows students that writing can and should be fun.

This leads right into a discussion of research. Since many of my books are non-fiction and historical fiction, we discuss the importance of information literacy. I share my research process, and once again, I make connections to what the students are doing in school. Research is similar to detective work, and as a result, it’s vital for students to understand how critical it is to fact-check and evaluate sources.

Finally, we talk about my reading life. We discuss why our reading lives matter. Since it’s critical that students see authors not just as writers, but as readers, I share recent titles I’ve read. I book talk texts from a variety of genres and explain how books teach us about empathy and why it’s so necessary that we see ourselves in books.

The workshop concludes with a question and answer session.

Request a School Visit:

If you would like for me to visit your school, please fill out the following form:

Contact Person and Title (required)

Contact Email (required)

Phone (required)

School Name and Address

Age Range of Students

Approximate Number of Students

Requested Dates (Please provide several dates)

Visit Type

Student Lunch with Phil Included?
Yes, include Student Lunch with Phil

Alternatively, for more details and information regarding my school visits, contact Jean Dayton at Dayton Bookings.

Book Sales

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Though it is not required, I strongly encourage schools to coordinate book sales prior to my visit. Whenever possible, please arrange for these book sales through a local vendor or independent bookstore. Book sale coordination takes a great deal of time. Most schools start this process several MONTHS in advance of my visit.

During my visit, I will gladly personalize and sign all of my books (purchased books, school library copies, personal copies brought from home). In 2017, my featured titles are the Rip & Red books (A Whole New Ball Game, Rookie of the Year, Tournament of Champions) and the following picture books: Martina & Chrissie, Marvelous Cornelius, The Soccer Fence, Twenty-One Elephants, The Greatest Game Ever Played.

2017-2018 Calendar of Appearances

September 18 Rockenbaugh Elementary
September 19 Johnson Elememtary
September 20 Carroll Elementary
September 21 Old Union Elementary
September 23 Princeton Book Festival
September 26 Negley Elementary
September 27 Cowan Elementary
September 28 Pillow Elementary

October 2 Lakewood Elementary
October 3 Creekview Elementary
October 4 Willow Creek Elementary
October 5 Creekside Park Junior High
October 6 Rosehill Elementary
October 10 Clay Springs Elementary
October 11 Waterbridge Elementary
October 12 Vista Lakes Elementary
October 12 Cypress Springs Elementary
October 13 Lake George Elementary
October 13 Moss Park Elementary
October 16 Swenke Elementary
October 17 M. Robinson Elementary
October 18 A. Robison Elementary
October 19 Jowell Elementary
October 19 Yeager Elementary
October 20 Horne Elementary
October 20 Emery Elementary

November 2 Smithville School
November 3 KidLitCon Annual Conference
November 8 Latham Ridge Elementary
November 9 Southgate Elementary
November 28 Johnson Elementary
November 29 Franklin School
November 30 Lincoln School

Additional Important Information

  • Students should only attend ONE presentation. At schools where I do both general presentations and writing camp presentations, students should only attend one, NOT both.
  • For the writing camp presentation, the language arts teachers MUST attend. Students must bring paper/notebook and pen/pencil.
  • I’ll gladly have lunch with a small group of kids (usually about 8-12 kids). The lunch should be 30 minutes. The lunch option is only available during full day visits.
  • Half day school visits are ONLY available when the school visit day is split with another school from the district or area. Half day school visits consist of two presentations (45-50 minutes in length) and book signing.

How to Greet an Author!

Check out this amazing greeting from a school visit I did some years back.

December 4 Hamilton Elementary
December 5 McFee Elementary
December 6 Francone Elementary
December 7 Lamkin Elementary
December 8 Black Elementary
December 13 German School Brooklyn
December 14 German-American School

January 8 Cantiague School
January 9 Seaman School
January 10 Jackson School
January 11 Seely Place Elementary
January 11 Greenville Elementary
January 17 Bee Meadow
January 22 Morton Ranch Elementary
January 22 Sundown Elementary
January 23 Rylander Elementary
January 24 Wolman Elementary
January 24 Pattison Elementary
January 25 Rhoads Elementary
January 26 Exley Elementary
January 26 Bryant Elementary
January 29 Memorial Parkway Elementary
January 30 Winborn Elementary
January 30 Williams Elementary
January 31 Hayes Elementary
January 31 Woodcreek Elementary

February 1 Birkes Elementary
February 1 Matzke Elementary
February 2 Fiest Elementary
February 9 Canton Elementary
February 15 Berkeley Elementary
February 20 Tillman Elementary
February 21 Westchester Elementary
February 22 Robison Elementary
February 23 Keysor Elementary
February 27 Name That Book
February 28 Cypress-Fairbanks High School
February 28 Cypress Springs High School

March 1 Keith Elementary
March 2 Sampson Elementary
March 2 Woodard Elementary
March 8 Salem Drive Elementary
March 9 Chittick Elementary
March 18-20 Warrensburg Children’s Literature Festival
March 27 I, Too, Arts Collective
March 28 Central Park East School
March 29 Mountain View Elementary

April 16 Pulaski Academy
April 17 Episcopal Collegiate Lower School
April 18 Episcopal Collegiate Middle School
April 20-21, Southern Kentucky Book Festival
April 24 Rushmore Avenue School

May 3 Hubbard School
May 4 Tisdale School
January 11 Seely Place Elementary
January 11 Greenville Elementary
May 9 Wallingford Public Library
May 22 Boght Hills Elementary

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Out Of My Mind

Check out some of the vids from my YouTube series.  They’re pretty cool.

Click below and check it out!