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 a writer.

We begin by talking about 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 discuss ideas. Where do we get our ideas? What inspires us? We talk about my life as an author, and I share my second grade writing journal and other early writing samples.

Our next conversation is about the importance of process. Using several of my books as examples, we discuss drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. I share hard copies of editorial letters, rough drafts, and edited manuscripts. We draw parallels between what I do as a writer and what students do in school. Throughout this section of the presentation, I reinforce the notion that “the real writing takes place during the rewriting.”

Since many of my books are non-fiction and historical fiction, we discuss in depth 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. Researches are really detectives. As a result, it’s vital for students to understand how critical it is to fact-check and evaluate sources.

Because many students are visual learners and love drawing and painting, it’s important that we celebrate the work of the illustrators. That’s what we do next. We make connections between the illustrator’s process, the author’s process, and the student’s writing process. To demonstrate this, I share thumbnails, sketches, sample layouts, and uncorrected proofs.

Next, we discuss the importance of reading. I share specific examples of why everyone must read and that 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 Camp

  • Available to students in grades 3-7.
  • Maximum of sixty (60) students per session.
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My “writing camp” presentations are writing workshops. I created them with Lindsay Jones, a wonderful Texas school librarian, who was also a great friend. The writing camp begins with a discussion about ideas. Where do we get our ideas? What inspires us?

From there, I talk about my life as an author. I share my second grade writing journal and other early writing samples. Next, I provide a series of basic writing tips. Many are similar or identical to what teachers are sharing in the classroom. From there, we turn our attention to the writing process.

Using one of my latest books (A Whole New Ball Game, Marvelous Cornelius, The Soccer Fence), we discuss drafting, editing, revising, and publishing. I share hard copies of editorial letters, rough drafts, and edited manuscripts. We draw parallels between what I do as a writer and what students do in school.

Throughout this portion of the presentation, I reinforce the notion that “the real writing takes place during the rewriting.” That leads to a discussion about “seed ideas” and small moments. We talk about “exploding the moment” and making these seed ideas come to life by adding details. I then lead the students through a series of “exploding the moment” exercises, focusing on descriptive language and using our senses.

Then we discuss the concept of “show, don’t tell.” Students learn the difference between showing and telling by picturing movies in their minds. Through a series of individual and group exercises, and by using real world examples, student-driven examples, and examples from my books, discover how their writing can come alive.

Next, we discuss the importance of reading. I share specific examples of why everyone must read and that our reading lives matter. Since it’s important that students see authors not just as writers, but as readers as well, 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 vital that we see ourselves in books. The writing camp 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.

January 9: Seaman School
January 10: Cantiague School
January 18: F. N. Brown School
January 19: Laning Elementary
January 20: Brookdale Avenue School
January 23: Swenke Elementary
January 24: Danish Elementary
January 25: Francone Elementary
January 26: Postma Elementary
January 27: Warner Elementary
January 27: Woodward Elementary
January 28: Hollins University
January 31: Seaford Harbor Elementary

February 7: The Willets Road School
February 10: High Mountain Road Elem.
February 10: Westmoreland Elem.
February 16: World Read Aloud Day
February 21: Cumberland Trace Elementary
February 22: William Natcher Elementary
February 23: Jody Richards Elementary
February 24: Rockfield Elementary
February 27: Henry Moss Middle School

March 2: Lawrence Brook Elementary
March 3: GAMS Tech Magnet School
March 6: A Robison Elementary
March 7: Keith Elementary
March 8: Rennell Elementary
March 9: Kirk Elementary
March 10: Hancock Elementary
March 10: Yeager Elementary
March 19-21: Children’s Literature Festival
March 29: Churchville Elementary
March 30: Rolling Hills Elementary

April 2: Hooray for Books
April 3: St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School
April 6: Jericho Hall of Fame
April 8: Educators’ Collaborative Keynote
April 10 Black Elementary
April 11 Frazier Elementary
April 12 Warner Elementary
April 18 Connoquenessing Valley Elementary
April 19 Haine Elementary
April 26 Orchard School
April 26 Lenox School
April 26 Sicomac School

May 12 Crompond Elemenary
May 16 Forest Avenue
May 19 Whetstone Elementary
May 20 Gaithersburg Book Festival

June 2 Westbrook 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.

Out Of My Mind

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

Click below and check it out!

Watch Now

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