Author Presentations/School Visits

School Visits, Creative Writing Camps, Workshops, Conferences



Download the two-page School visit flyer.

Click here to learn about school visits, including that pesky money issue. 


OTE groupie

I love talking to students and other writers about my books and the writing process.  For more information about presentations, contact me or my booking agent, Carmen Oliver at The Booking Biz.

I will be happy to tailor a presentation and fee schedule to fit your organization’s needs.


“Donna Janell Bowman, author of the beautiful, informative book “Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness,” visited Benbrook Elementary for Reading Rock Stars. She was fabulous! The students were fascinated with her book, her Kindness Pledge, and her program from beginning to end! We highly recommend spending a morning with this interesting author!” — Librarian Susan Scheinthal, Benbrook Elementary, TX

“Donna’s presentation to our creative writing summer campers was both personal and professional. She told her story about how and why writing became a meaningful pursuit for her. She helped students understand her process for coming up with ideas, conducting research, drafting and revising, working with an illustrator, and staying motivated. Donna provided inspiration and insight young people can use as they continue to try new things in their writing. She also included a writing activity for our campers, and our group responded enthusiastically—they were very excited to share their work with her, as well. Donna’s positive energy and genuine interest in writing kept students engaged. Her talk was versatile and inclusive—campers from third-grade to twelfth-grade enjoyed learning from and talking with Donna.” – Cecily Sailer, Program Manager, Austin Public Library Friends Foundation

“Donna did a wonderful job speaking with the kids, never losing the positive message about her book. Her presentation was both entertaining and informative. Besides writing, she has a real talent for connecting with kids!” — Amy German, Youth Services Librarian, Round Rock Public Library

Sample School Programs

(All programs can be customized for specific audiences)


STEP RIGHT UP: HOW DOC AND JIM KEY TAUGHT THE WORLD ABOUT KINDNESS. Programs about this book will include a PowerPoint presentation about the remarkable true story of the unlikely 19th-century duo who, despite racial prejudice and skepticism, changed people’s minds about the treatment of animals, and fueled the emerging humane movement. I will include my nine-year process of researching and writing the book. Also, with your approval, I will encourage kids to take the Step Right Up Kindness Pledge, whereby each child pledges kindness to all living beings—including each other. Between 1899-1906, an estimated two million people signed the original Jim Key Pledge. Download a black and white version of the pledge, or a color version.

COMING IN 2018: EN GARDE! ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S DUELING WORDS. Picture book biography that shines a light on the more human side of Abraham Lincoln. In 1842, he made a great big mistake that landed him on the dueling ground, where his political future and his very life were at stake.  He would need his wit and a heavy dose of humility to survive. Ultimately, the event changed Lincoln and shaped the president he would later become. Presentations about this book will include the related history and a discussion about character and integrity.

Research is a Scavenger Hunt:

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 7.00.48 PMResearch begins with questions and involves actively searching for sometimes-elusive information. Through an interactive PowerPoint presentation, I will deconstruct the research process for one or more of my books—highlighting the question-answer-question process. I will share ideas for organizing research and creating outlines. When time allows, I will share some fascinating accidental research finds, like original articles about the Titanic disaster, Sam Houston’s speech at Nacogdoches, and Charles Dickens’ serialized Great Expectations. For Texas presentations, I will bring FullSizeRenderphotos, original microfilm, 19th-century newspapers, and artifacts. The goal of this presentation is to encourage students to see research as a fun scavenger hunt. (Note: This presentation can be combined with Bringing Nonfiction to Life.)

Writing is Funtastic!

children writing girls writingboys writing

FullSizeRender 3As creators, we write toward an end product—an essay, short story, book, poem. Through a traditional presentation or a workshop format, I will build on the 6+1 writing traits while expanding concepts about theme, voice, style, and structure. I will address common questions like where stories come from and where authors get their ideas. In workshop settings, I will provide visual prompts to challenge students to find their creative zone. Additionally, I will address what every writer and author face—writer’s block, the blank page, and crummy first drafts that can only evolve through revision.

Bringing Nonfiction to Life

FullSizeRender 7Let’s face it; many kids think nonfiction writing is boring. In this presentation, I will share my experiences with both expository and narrative nonfiction, and how the “wow” factor can be applied to both. I will address questions common to the process: how do authors narrow down a great big subject into a tightly focused true story angle? How do you identify a narrative nonfiction theme? How do you use details and word choice to bring writing to life? I will also address the research process and ways to organize facts and details. *Bonus: When feasible, I will bring some original nineteenth-century newspapers and other artifacts accessed during my research.

From Idea to Story

Where do ideas come from, and how do you sculpt that idea into a narrative? Kids often struggle with the concept of story, which involves a character who struggles against obstacles in pursuit of a goal. In this presentation, I will introduce the foundations of character development, plot, point-of-view, voice, narrative arc, and the Hero’s Journey. Kids are encouraged to expand their own initial ideas by asking specific questions. In workshop settings, this might include fun side-writing exercises.  I will discuss how, by accessing the writer’s toolbox, story and characters come to life for the reader.

**Skype Visits Available.  I offer a free 15 minute Skype visit if your class would like to chat about one of my books. Contact me for more information.

Texas Library Association (TLA) conference 2016

For Grown-up Writers

Tailored to the needs of your conference, workshop, or class, my presentation might include information about: the business side of writing for children, the pre-publication apprenticeship period, trade vs. educational/work-for-hire markets, writing across cultures, working with editors, finding an agent, and the nitty-gritty of queries, synopsis, cover letters, etc.

Nonfiction-specific for Writers 

Topics might include research, revision, finding the story within the facts, identifying the theme, and determining which form is most suitable for a particular subject — picture book, short story, article, middle grade, or young adult. See my Books page for a list of my current and forthcoming nonfiction books.

Here’s one example that I’d be happy to bring to your conference or workshop:

Not Just the Facts, Ma’am: The Duel Benefits of Creative Picture Book Biographies and the Often Blurry Nonfiction Line 
The current trend toward more creative approaches to picture book biographies is great news for today’s drama-focused young readers and educators alike. A biography with a tightly focused angle, presented through unique storytelling, literary devices, and story structures, can turn an informational subject into story time fare and a conversation about literary variety. Authors balance the role of historian and storyteller by using fiction techniques to stitch carefully-chosen facts into narrative form—while not making anything up—usually. Drawing on my critical thesis research and my own experiences along the publishing journey, I will present a handful of the creative techniques that successfully offer this dual opportunity; how those approaches and any embellishments can blur the nonfiction line; and how publishers, awards committees, and the Library of Congress feel about pushing the boundaries.