School Visits

A Seed Is Sleepy, by Dianna Hutts AstonTalking with schoolchildren is one of the best parts of being a children’s book author. I’m inspired by their curiosity, their questions and their interest in learning. My hope is to plant a seed that writing, art and music are fuel for the imagination and that they can earn a living by doing what they love. The following is a description of my presentations and how to book one.

What are your presentations like?

Presentations are informal and interactive, designed to encourage questions by both children and teachers. I’m there to talk about what they want to know. I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned about writing, where ideas come from, how fun writing can be, and answering questions. Generally, I read a selection of my books and talk about my experience as a professional writer—as a children’s book author, a former journalist, and a kid who always loved writing and reading. Between book-readings, I ask for questions. Often, the presentation follows the pattern of their questions, and I strongly encourage teachers to introduce my books beforehand and have them bring written questions with them. No question is off limits, including money, age and most embarrassing moments. Among my favorite questions from past visits are: “Did your mom help you write that book?” “Are you married?” and “How many different colors is your hair?”

Which grades to you speak to?

My picture books are written for children primarily in the 5-10 age group, so I speak to elementary age children in schools, home-schooling groups, public libraries, summer camps, book events, museums…wherever there is an audience of kids who are interested in writing.

An Egg Is Quiet, by Dianna Hutts AstonHow long is your presentation?

The standard session is 50-55 minutes. My fee includes three sessions per day.

How large a group will you speak to?

From past visits, I’ve found that the most successful presentations are accomplished in a library setting by grade level. Depending on size, grade levels can be combined as long as the number of children at a time doesn’t exceed 100, more or less.

What do you require for your presentations?

My books should be on-hand at the presentation site. If available, a cordless microphone makes it easier for all to hear. Besides that, I just ask for bottled water, hand sanitizer and lunch, preferably with teachers, administrators, staff and/or a select group of students. One innovative principal raffled tickets for “Lunch With The Author.” It was fun for everyone—and a good way to earn money for the school. I’ll eat anything but another fried Mexican grasshopper or eggplant. Any other food is fine, whether it’s take-out, the school cafeteria or a restaurant, but I especially enjoy pilfering recipes at pot lucks.

Should your visit include a book-signing?

Yes! Children usually want at least one book after they hear about it during a presentation, and book-signings are a good way to talk with kids individually. Book sales can also serve as fundraisers. This is where PTA members and parent volunteers can help.

How do I order books?

It’s easy. The very best way is by working with a local bookstore. They can handle orders and offer discounts to your school. They will also return to the publisher any unsold books. Ordering directly from the publisher is also an option, but it requires time and effort, and any unsold books purchased through this venue cannot be returned.

Not So Tall For Six, by Dianna Hutts AstonWhen is the best time to sell books?

You should always sell before the day of the presentation, but do order extras so they’re available on the day of the visit. When you order through a bookstore, you only pay for what’s sold, so it’s ok to order more for people who haven’t prepaid.

How do I book a visit? What is your fee?


To book a presentation, contact me at .  My fee for school visits is $1000 per day, ($500 for public libraries), plus travel, lodging and expenses. If two or more schools within a district (or 25-mile radius) book at the same time, I will discount my fee by 5%. Paying for a visit may seem daunting, but there are many options to cover the cost. Schools can apply for grants, hold fundraisers, use designated funds or solicit donations from literacy-oriented organizations such as Friends of the (Public) Library. The PTA and parent volunteers can be helpful in raising funds by these methods.