In-person School Visits
Debra keeps a camera in her studio during the long process of making her books. These pictures are transformed into highly visual presentations that include the search for ideas, the writing and editorial process, journal techniques, and how art can inform writing projects.
A master storyteller, Debra presents to both students and adults with a strong emphasis on process. Her talk on creativity for adults, The Country of Lost, has received standing ovations from architects, potters, writers, other artists, and educators.
Frequently asked questions about Debra’s presentations.
To schedule an Author Visit or Conference Presentation, click here.
An Overview of Debra Frasier’s Presentations
Debra: an Author Visit includes three large group sessions. It is important to group the audiences by grade level as each presentation is crafted for a specific grade age. For example: K + 1, 2 + 3, 4 + 5th.
Debra: My presentation is visual so the performing space MUST BE DARKENDED. I bring my computer and projector and need only a media cart, screen or white wall, and a microphone. Each presentation shows a different book as it grows its way from tiny idea in a journal to writing, revision, illustrating and production.
“Wonderful presentation…Love the books!”
“It was great. Would like to see more programs like this here!”
Lunch with the Author
Debra: An optional Student Lunch can be added to the day. The lunch can be fancy, with placemats or table cloths, or simple, with pizza in the teacher’s lounge, or special, like the beach picnic in the media center, or very, very simple with a circle of desks and a brown bag lunch. Often cake is served, to go along with A Birthday Cake Is No Ordinary Cake.
A place at the student lunch can be won by a random drawing, or awarded for outstanding effort in reading, or for a Vocabulary Parade Costume or design. After we eat we then have a few minutes to talk more intimately about how my current project is going and field questions about writing. Sometimes we fold tiny journals that each student is then instructed to teach their classmates how to make. Often we have a group picture taken before returning to class.
Debra: It is great when my schedule allows me to appear on morning announcements to introduce myself, or to be introduced by prepared students like these Ohio students performing a teacher created poem to welcome me! Several school districts have taped teleconferences with bused in audiences, and/or call-in question-and-answer sessions.
“You should just invite her back every year.” (Teacher)
“That author was great!” (Third and Fifth grade teachers)
“I wanted to tell her that there were 2 first grade special ed students who lasted FORTY minutes!” (Special Ed Para-educator)
Debra: An optional twenty to forty-minute Teacher In-Service is included in the Author Visit. We meet before or after school and I showcase dozens of projects from all over the USA that show how my books can be extended across the curriculum. Plan for refreshments, or make a call for pot luck treats — or bring in a chef for cook-to-order omelets! (a one-time event, not your usual faculty refreshment table!)
My job in this short session is to show how, through real-life examples, the Author Visit impact can be greatly increased through extensions. Many teachers comment on how inspirational it is to see how other teachers around the country work with books.
Debra: Offering books to be autographed to the students is a school decision. Some schools use book sales as part of the fundraising effort, others want to keep the price as low as possible. My titles are both hard and paper covered so the price points are accessible. Sometimes a school invites a local bookseller to handle all books. Volunteers are always needed to sort the orders and distribute books to students.
On the day of the Author Visit I like to have the books sorted and ready for me to sign in a quiet place — library or conference room — where I can dip in and out in my spare moments to try to get all signing done before the day’s end. (Note: Books are most often returned to the students the day AFTER my visit. if I do finish the signing by day’s end, students can be called to the library for distributing if we have time.)
A FAMILY NIGHT EVENT!
HOW TO MAKE CUT PAPER ILLUSTRATIONS
Debra: This event is in addition to the day-long Author Visit, and is individually considered by each school. Some schools share the expenses by inviting two schools for one event. One district held ONE evening event for the entire district, using the large local high school cafeteria. We need enough room for each participant to have table space, a pair of scissors, and a glue stick. I bring the rest of the supplies.
Always an exciting night, this one and a half hour session begins with an introductory slide show (so the room needs to be darkened, with a projection viewing screen or white wall), followed by the hands-on creating. Everyone makes, no one sits and watches! It is always a joy to see the room settle into quiet creating. The Dads are usually the most surprised at how well their projects turn out — and the children literally beam at their parents’ efforts. My largest group has included close to 300 participants so if the space can accommodate the guests, we can teach this amazing, simple, and life long skill in a single evening. Estimated number of participants must be submitted three weeks before the event so paper can be ordered and shipped in time.
Debra: I spend years preparing for my one-day visit to your school but my visit can only extend so far without support from the hosting school. (See the Timeline Notes I provide in your planning kit!) The most successful Author Visits come in many shapes and sizes but a few elements are consistent. Try any of these ideas gleaned from hundreds of school visits across the United States. Our mutual goal is to model a love of books, stories, reading, and writing for our students and faculty.
- The first and most important: Everyone reads the author’s books!
- Cultivate a committed principal. Help the principal prioritize the Author Visit within their (insanely) busy schedule. Students are smart and know principals only focus on what’s important. (Faculties know this, also.) Try these principal involvement activities I’ve seen:
- Be caught reading the author’s books: on school TV, school announcements, at the lunch room, visiting classrooms.
- Participate in an extension activity: Make an On the Day You Were Born booklet and post it for kids to see you as a child…Pick a word and march in a Miss Alaineus Vocabulary Parade
- Meet with parents to encourage funding and volunteers.
- Give lead Author Visit faculty release time to work on planning and run the days’ events.
- Attend the Author Visit sessions. Introduce the author to all or some of the groups. Students notice!
- Call the press, be in pictures with the author for newspaper, TV or school newsletter. Help make the Author Visit A Very Big Deal within the community. One principal wisely said to me: “Once we have an author in our school we try to figure out how to use the visit to help secure the NEXT author visit.”
- Appoint a photographer so there is ample documentation to use in future presentations to parents, school boards, or the local press. Be certain the day is documented for the yearbook.
- Faculty Involvement! Invite faculty to weigh in on the Author choice. Read the author’s books to your students and yourself. Use the extensions found under each book page where a host of easy-to-find activities are ready for use. Discuss structure in the picture book. Try the techniques the illustrator uses. paper the school with images and vocabulary from the studied books. Be in a Vocabulary Parade. (Note the faculty pictured here: “Transparent” hat, “Eyeballs” PE coach costume, “Divine” Principal, “Puzzled” teacher, and “Miss Pelling, Queen of Commonly Misspelled Words.”
- Take on a school-wide project. Examples: On the Day You Were Born research works well with all ages, as well as the Vocabulary Parade that accompanies Miss Alaineus, A Vocabulary Disaster.
- Read all the picture books before my arrival. It won’t take long. They ae short, but aimed at the heart! My talks are about process and how tiny ideas in journals grow into full-fledged books. If the students know my stories we can spend the time concentrating on unlocking creative process. Start early, round robin the set you will receive with the signed contract.
- Study the author. Know something about the author’s background before arrival.
- Transform the school in some small way: a hallway, door, welcome sign.
And with this marvelous compliment, I close, and wish you the greatest of Author Visit Days with any author you invite into your school. Read. Plan. And remember that our job is to keep wonder alive, even as it flags in us through the grind of daily life. Without that flame flickering, all is lost because ALL solutions come from within the glow of wonder. Books do so much to kindle that light, and in childhood we have a chance to fan the flames, hoping to make the light bright enough to stretch all the way through life to guide the way.
Thank you for being with our children, building their lives day by day, page by page. Your work is the Great Work.
All the best,
Debra Frasier, Author & Illustrator
AUTHOR VISIT COSTS
A one-day Author Visit is $1250.00 per day, plus expenses. This honorarium includes three large group sessions, an optional student lunch, an optional in-service session with faculty, an array of Frasier picture books and a Vocabulary Parade planning kit. Expenses include airfare, car rental, hotel, and meals (not to exceed $25 per day.) If my own car is used the current government rate will be charged (56 cents per mile at the moment), or gas charges. If the school would like smaller audiences a second day in the same school building is $1100.00
The Family Night Event is an additional $350.00. Some supplies are provided by the school: scissors for EACH participant (even parents) and glue sticks (one glue stick for each pair of participants to share). All construction and other materials are provided by the author. Debra will cover shipping costs to the school. School agrees to ship author’s supplies back to her studio in Asheville, NC. (ZIP code 28804)
My in-person Author Visits are temporarily suspended until we are safely through the Covid-19 global pandemic. I look forward to seeing you on the other side of this! Please visit my Virtual Author Visit page for a description of a live visit to my studio.