Author Presentations/School Visits

School Visits, Workshops, Conferences

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Download my school visit flyer here.  

To view my current appearance schedule (subject to change), click here.

If I’m already scheduled to speak at your school, the following resources are especially for you:

Pre-formatted book order form for you convenience
Pre-author visit Tip Sheet to help you prepare for my visit

Curriculum guide for Step Right Up
Illustrator video for Step Right Up with Daniel Minter
A reading of Step Right Up by the TX Bluebonnet committee
TX Bluebonnet Award Resources Page
Expanded content about Step Right Up to spark classroom discussions.

Curriculum guide for Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words
Book trailer for Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words
Expanded content for Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words to spark classroom discussions (timeline, full bibliography, and articles about dueling, the gentlemen’s code of honor, Bloody Island, etc.)

For general information about author visits, including how to finance one, here are more resources for you:

Click here for everything you want to know about school visits—how to raise the money, how to prepare, and why authors can’t donate their time. Remember that every state has corporate philanthropy options to consider if you need help with finances. Two examples in Texas are HEB and Target. A few national options are Wells Fargo and SCBWI’s Amber Brown Grant, and the Maureen Hayes Author/Illustrator Grant by ALSC and ALA, funded by Simon and Schuster. You’ll find many more grant opportunities through this Scholastic link. There are more grants out there. Ask your colleagues and get creative.

For more about what I can offer, read on:

I love talking to students and other writers about my books and the writing process. You’ll find more information about my school visits. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at


 Presentation Options:

This presentation expands the story of Doc and Jim and sparks conversations about how one person can make a profound difference—often with simple acts of kindness. Students will learn about the personal connection that inspired the author to tell Doc and Jim’s story, the long and winding research journey, and the write, rewrite, revise, rinse-and-repeat process. Interwoven challenge questions are especially appealing to students and teachers. When feasible, research materials and artifacts will be exhibited. At the conclusion of this presentation, students will  take the Step Right Up Kindness Pledge, downloadable in color or black and white. (45-60 minutes for grades 3-5)
*For each presentation topic, a 30-40-minute simplified version is available for grades K-2— primarily focused on story ideas and kindness, and with ample humor to keep the kiddos engaged.

In this presentation, expanded content about the historical events surrounding Lincoln’s little-known duel will be shared, along with an age-appropriate conversation about political mudslinging, bullying, character, integrity, and the power of words. Ultimately, we reveal how nobody is perfect—not even Honest Abe. As Abraham Lincoln learned, how we respond to our mistakes and mis-steps defines our character. Students will learn about the spark of inspiration for the author, the long and winding research journey, and the write, rewrite, revise, rinse-and-repeat process. When feasible, research materials and artifacts will be shown.

NEW!! The Super Power of Words and Stories:

Words can be shaped like clay to form images in the readers’ mind. The right words in the right order can build worlds and characters, evoke emotion, answer questions, open windows to the past or the future. As William “Doc” Key and Beautiful Jim Key proved, words spelled by a horse can surprise people into kindness. As Abraham Lincoln proved, words can be wielded like a sword or they can inspire and soothe a nation. In this presentation, Donna will share how childhood reading and writing inspired her to be an author, and how her awe for the human imagination, and topics she cares deeply about inspire everything she writes—from journal writing to book writing. She will use Bluebonnet-nominated Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness and Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words to demonstrate the power of words.

Research—Part time-travel, Part Scavenger Hunt:

Research begins with an idea—a spark of inspiration. Bringing that idea to life requires a wide and creative search for facts and details—a search that goes far beyond the internet and requires careful organization. In this presentation, I will discuss the importance of finding a focus, plus I’ll share the question-answer-question process and the differences between primary and secondary sources. Students are encouraged to arrive at this presentation with a topic in mind for their own writing. When possible, I will bring artifacts and one of my mega-binders of research to illustrate the range of my own research.

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Writing Workshop Options:

Expanding Moments into Scenes (60 minutes is ideal. Grades 3-5):
Kids often have trouble adding detail to their personal narratives or informational essays. In this workshop, we will first define what a scene really is, then we’ll prime the creative juices by examining mentor texts. We will brainstorm active and interesting verbs, vivid sensory details, and emotional connections, then, using a prompt, students will practice expanding a moment into a scene.

Adding Voice to Writing (60 minutes is ideal. Grades 3-5):
Voice is the personality or soundtrack that authors weave into their fiction AND nonfiction writing. It is the most difficult craft concept to teach and learn. In this workshop, I begin by using mentor texts to demonstrate how authors infuse each character and each story with a distinct voice. With pencil and paper in hand, students begin a word bank of interesting verbs, modifiers, and expressions.

Expository vs. Narrative Nonfiction (60 minutes is ideal)

From Idea to Story Workshop (60 minutes is ideal):
Story is about a character in pursuit of a goal/want/need who faces challenges/obstacles along the way and emerges changed in some way. In this workshop, we will explore the basic narrative arcs of stories and how every story has a beginning, middle, and end. The Hero’s Journey can be included, upon request.

**Limited number of Skype Visits Available.  I offer a free 15-minute Skype visit if your class would like a Q&A session about my books. If you would like a full author visit via Skype, contact me for rates.

2018-19 Honorariums:

I strive to be affordable for all budgets, so please contact me.

My author visit honorariums are based on variables such as the number of presentations you’re aiming for, my required travel time, and the number of consecutive visits that can be arranged in your area.

The more efficient I can be with my time, the better my rates can be. To lower the cost for your school, consider coordinating with other schools in your area.

For Grown-up Writers and Professional Development:

I love talking craft and business with other writers, teachers, and librarians. By sharing information, we help each other reach out ultimate goal—to inspire young readers and writers. Here re some potential topics for workshops, conference sessions, professional development, or adult classes.

Here’s one example of a session topic:

Not Just the Facts, Ma’am: The Duel Benefits of Creative Picture Book Biographies and the Often Blurry Nonfiction Line (This topic works especially well as an adult workshop or class) The current trend toward more creative approaches in 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.

A Few Testimonials:

“I am so glad Ms. Bowman was able to speak to our campus. Her presentation was entertaining, informative, and engaging. From kindergarten through fifth grade, the students were enthralled. She went into detail with the older grades about researching, writing, and revising. To hear a professional writer talk about the importance of revision was invaluable for students. In addition, her message about kindness was wonderful to hear. Thank you, Ms. Bowman, for spending your day with us. We can’t wait to have you back.”  —Susan VanDeWater, Wieland Elementary School librarian

“During our Writer’s Workshop, Donna shared the authentic process of writing her stories…the good, the bad and the ugly!  Students were drawn to her story through the animals she talks about growing up around as a child. She helped our students break down the process into kid friendly segments by making lists of great words, and our 4th grade students came away with the start for a great story as well as many tips for improving their writing!  Thank you Donna!” —Brenda Weathers, Cactus Ranch Elementary

“Your students will learn so much when Donna visits your school!…[Her] visit and interactions with the students was amazing. Our students were still talking about [her] visit months later! —Amy Simpson, Annie Purl Elementary.
“I got such great feedback from the teachers and students about your visit to DFT.  The teachers said students were making connections in class to your presentation.  They loved the message of kindness and used it as a springboard for conversation in class.” —Keri Rabe, Double File Trail Elementary

“The best writers’ workshop we’ve had in years! Step Right Up is such a perfect fit for schools wanting literary nonfiction mentor texts brought to life. Its kindness theme offered our children a nice position paper prompt opportunity, and her thorough research exemplifies the importance of good supporting details. Donna Janell Bowman is flexible and professional, and she truly inspired our young writers. She brought her research notes, the cover art for her next book, her beautiful 5′ canvas sign, and slides that chronicled the steps involved for writing Step Right Up. She customized her writers’ workshop presentation to suit our fourth-grade curriculum and writing targets. My teachers asked if she could return next year!”  —Mariah Smith, Forest Creek Elementary

“To say that Donna Bowman, author of Step Right Up,  had a successful author visit at Alcuin School would be a gross understatement.  Every presentation, every class visit, every meeting with parents, administrators and staff was a conversation about the importance of kindness.  That message is such a universal one that our entire community continues to discuss it weeks after her visit. The students created banners of “kindness” words and displayed their signed Pledges of Kindness in the library.  Some students wrote letters or drew pictures for Ms. Bowman. The magic seems stronger when the students have opportunities to be involved, so we found that it was helpful for everyone to have read or listened to the story of Jim Key.  The message of kindness is something our world needs to hear; and thus, we hope other schools bring Ms. Bowman for a visit and begin spreading the message one school at a time.”  Mary Ann Campbell, Alcuin Montessori School—Dallas, TX

“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