Visiting schools in person is one of the greatest parts of being an author/illustrator. Here I have the opportunity to speak with and inspire hundreds of children at a time. Primarily using a simple A frame easel and drawing pad, my visits focus around a series of creative, instructional, and ultimately inspirational presentations. Focusing on elementary schools, I generally speak to entire grades at a time (as pictured below), which usually amounts to the entire student body over the course of a day.
Presentations range between 20-40 minutes, and are distinctly tailored to the grade level I'm speaking to. For instance, a fifth grade class would lean more towards writing and story structure, and a first grade group would focus more on drawing, creativity, and story basics. In most cases, I use my own journey (of going from a kid in Ohio who loved to draw to being able to live my dream of becoming a Walt Disney Animator and published Author and Illustrator) as the main narrative that ties it all together.
Without question though, what sets my presentations apart from most authors is my drawing demonstrations. As a former Walt Disney Animator, I have an immediate connection with every single child (and adult) in the school, because everyone has already seen at least one, (and usually several) of the movies I've worked on. Just mentioning that I helped animate Mulan, or Lilo, or Tiana is enough to bring applause from most groups. Again, the whole point of my visits is to make a connection with the students, and inspire them, and just knowing that I have helped create movies that they have all seen is usually enough to throw that door wide open.
One major aspect of my school visits is the pre-ordering of my books and either having me sign them ahead of time or the day of the event. Often this means obtaining 100 or more copies, so visits usually need to be scheduled several weeks ahead of time, even if it's a part of a Scholastic Book Fair.