Visits & Speaking
“Ms. Bowman was an absolute joy and amazing experience for our students. She made the writing process sound fun and interesting for our students. I am so glad she came and would love her to come back about her new book.” —Christine Jackson, Voigt Elementary School
Some of my favorite endeavors include speaking at writing, literacy, and professional development events, and connecting with students and educators during school author visits.
School and Library Visits
To kids, meeting an author and hearing about their journey is like peeling back the wizard’s curtain in Oz, revealing the real-life person behind great books. When the magic is revealed, it becomes accessible, possible, and exciting. My goal is to inspire young readers and writers to think critically, imagine, invent, create, and succeed.
I have had the honor of providing hundreds of school presentations to all grade levels. Through in-person and virtual visits, I strive to balance entertainment and substance with curriculum connections and tools that support classroom goals. If you would like information about my availability, please use my form on this page.
If I am already scheduled to visit your school…
- Pre-formatted book order form
- Tips to prepare for my author visit
- Step Right Up resources and interviews
- Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words resources and interviews
- King of the Tightrope resources and interviews
- Writing process interviews—general
- To order my books directly from the publishers:
King of the Tightrope – Peachtree Publishers
Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words – Peachtree Publishers
Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness – Lee and Low Books
*Contract, invoice, and itinerary doc will be sent separately
Want to plan an author visit but don’t know where to start?
- Here’s a downloadable, step-by-step guide to organizing an author visit
- Grants and fundraising ideas to pay for an author visit
Possible Presentation Topics
If you don’t see the perfect presentation for your needs, I’ll create one for you.
One Word at a Time—Demystifying the Writing process (~45 minutes for grades 3-6. Simplified version available for grades K-2)
Like any goal or dream, writing begins with an idea, curiosity, and determination. In this presentation, I will combine the themes of all my books to demonstrate how my research and writing process echoes what young writers learn in the classroom. Students will be inspired by the idea that every writing project, like anything in life, can be accomplished one word at a time. Visuals include sloppy first drafts and revisions.
Research—Part time-travel, Part Treasure Hunt: (45 minutes for grades 3-5. Simplified and shorter version available for K-2)
Research is like a treasure hunt that goes far beyond the internet. In this presentation, I will demonstrate the journey of a story topic, from deciding on the focus to tackling the question-answer-question-answer process through credible primary and secondary sources. Students are encouraged to arrive at this presentation with a topic in mind for their own writing. Visuals will include unexpected research finds and photos from my research endeavors.
Imagine it, Achieve it: A STEAM-infused presentation (~45 minutes for grades 2-6. A Simplified version is available for grades K-2)
Using King of the Tightrope: When the Great Blondin Ruled Niagara as a focal point, we will explore the simple engineering process that allowed Blondin’s tightrope dream to come true, and the write-rewrite-revise process that resulted in the book. A STEM demonstration is included.
One Person Can Make a Difference / Kindness Can Change the World (~45 minutes for grades 3-6. A simplified version is available for K-2)
Using Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness as the focal point, 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 author’s personal connection to the story and the long and winding research and writing process. At the conclusion of the presentation, students will take the Step Right Up Kindness Pledge.
Words Matter & Character Matters (~45 minutes for grades 3-6. A simplified version is available for K-2)
With a focus on Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words, 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 own mistakes and missteps defines our character. Students will learn about the spark of inspiration for the author and the research-write-revise process.
Writing Workshops for Students
Workshops are ideal for grades 3-5 and last ~60-minutes. They require smaller groups of ~50 students with pencils, paper, and ideas. We will explore the writer’s perspective on the chosen topic, then I will model examples before the kids start writing.
- Crafting fractured fairytales.
- Expanding moments into scenes
- Adding voice to Writing
- Playing with point of view
- Expository vs narrative nonfiction
- Thinking outside the essay box
- Brainstorming—from idea to story
- Custom Workshop
Keynotes and Topics for Adult Audiences
- Ya gotta pay your dues—Learning through rejection
- A writer’s heart is in everything she/he writes. Yes, everything!
- Publishing 101 for educators
- From bookmobile to publishing world—my journey as an author
- How to systematically analyze mentor texts as a learning tool
- Creative approaches to picture book biographies
- How the Library of Congress catalogs children’s nonfiction
- Crash course in craft (topic of your choice)
Author Visit Inquiries
“This is one of the best author visits I’ve had.” — Jenny Day, Lee Elementary
“Ms. Bowman’s performance was wonderful! The students were engaged and interested in what she presented. Staff and students alike gave compliments about her presentation and her featured books.” –Cindy Drake, Brookhollow Elem.
“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
Click on photos to see full size!