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

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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.

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 old YouTube series.  They’re pretty cool.

Click below and check it out!