SCHOOL VISITS AND CONFERENCES
Practical tips for sponsoring an author visit at your school.
When I go to schools, I talk to kids about writing—mine and theirs. I want them to look at me and say, "I can do what he does." One fourth grader took my message literally. He went home and wrote a new ending to my book Playoff Dreams—he said mine wasn't happy enough!
I have visited more than 200 schools and find that the visits are never dull. Schools in the greater Washington, DC, metro area are the easiest for me to visit. I live in Silver Spring, Maryland, just outside the city.
PRESENTATION DESCRIPTION: I begin by showing my original notebook—the one with all the scribblings for my first book, T.J.'s Secret Pitch. I want the children to see that I start my stories the same way that they start theirs: with pen and paper and imagination. Nothing else. I want kids to see that they can do what I do.
I also tell them that I put a lot of details in my writing so that my readers can "see" my stories and I try to get the children to think about putting more details into their own writing (and thinking). At one school visit, I asked the children to describe a recent blizzard. The children started off very broadly. One child said: "It snowed a lot." But I said: "I need more detail. I'm not getting a picture in my mind." Then another child said: "There was so much snow it covered the tops of the cars!" Another called out: "The whole world looked white." And I said: "Wow, now I'm getting a picture!" And we were on a roll.
My presentations are always very lively and interactive.
When I speak at conferences around the country, I try to get people to think in new ways about sports. Kids explore so many sophisticated issues through sports — fairness, flawed role models, failure and success, and more. Sports also introduce kids to history (the Jackie Robinson story), politics (Olympics boycotts), colorful language, and intriguing math. The breadth and depth of sports is extraordinary. That's why I am so enthusiastic about writing sports books and columns for young readers.
I bring a lot of energy to my presentations and always include lots of funny stories about the crazy, wonderful pull sports has on kids (and grownups). I want to get people thinking, but I also like to get them laughing.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
"Fred's presentation was relevant to how we teach writing, creative thinking and planning. He was a dynamic presenter who engaged the audience."
-Sarah Wolf, Essex Elementary School, Essex, Massachusetts
"Fred did an outstanding job relating his writing process to the students. It was a wonderful reinforcement of our lessons, but with entertaining stories, facts, and energetic delivery."
—Katherine Stehman, librarian, Hans Herr Elementary, Lampeter, PA
"The children loved Fred Bowen. He not only speaks their language about sports, but engages them throughout his presentation. He is certainly one of the best author visits we have had at our school."
—Sue Tsiatis, media specialist, Summer Street Elementary School, Lynnfield, MA
"Both the boys and girls stayed very engaged and enthusiastic. It was a pleasure having him come back to our school."
—Suzanne Drapkin, Putnam Valley Elementary School, Putnam Valley, NY
"Mr. Bowen hit one out of the park! He held the kids spellbound with his funny stories and yet managed to slide in some solid pointers on writing. He was awesome!"
—Alethea Price, Reading Teacher, Tuckahoe Elementary, Arlington, Virgini
"All four teachers were really impressed. They particularly appreciated Fred's comments about the importance of reading and believing in your ability to get better at something if you keep working at it. He had great comments about his writing process. He really does an outstanding job."
—Barbara Ochmanek, librarian, St. Bernadette's, Springfield, VA