“Ms. Kessler, thank you for your time at CIS! Your visit has been a wonderful experience for students, teachers, staff and parents. You and your books, along with your presentations, have inspired students to keep journals and become authors. You have created an awareness for Africa – its people, animals and the baobab tree! Your real-life stories and pictures stirred our excitement for traveling. We thank you again for a fabulous week!”
– Testimonial from CIS
I would like to thank the Cayman International School on Grand Cayman Island for the very best school visit I have ever had. The kids were so well-prepared, that it was by far the best visit I have had in 17 countries and 140+ schools. It was fun, exciting, fulfilling and hopefully all those things too for the students. Many thanks to the wonderful teachers who paved the way for me by introducing their students to my books. And thanks too to the admin staff who made me feel welcome and took great care of me throughout my visit. I think Principal Jean Caskey should write a manual on how to get the most from an author’s visit for she did a great job in getting everything organized. I was touched by the beautiful welcoming assembly and good-bye show. CIS has set the bar very high for all my future visiting author trips. Thanks for everything.
A variety of presentations and workshops are offered. Presentations are best suited for groups of 40 to 60 students, so that there is time for questions. The presentations run from 45 to 60 minutes, depending on what the school prefers. The workshops vary according to audience, and can range from one hour to several days.
Four 1-hour sessions in any combination of “Behind the Books” and workshops. A lunch with Future Authors is included.
Five 1-hour sessions in any combination of “Behind the Books” and workshops. A lunch with Future Authors is included. An evening presentation for parents is possible.
There is a discount for multiple-day and multiple school visits in an area. Please ask for details. Travel expenses are in addition to the above fees. A selection of available books will be given to the library. Please contact Cristina for current fees and for more information. Thank you!
“Behind the Books” takes kids through the process of writing and publishing a book. I discuss where my ideas come from, and the necessary process of re-writes. I show a manuscript sent back by my editor, with lines and squiggles and arrows decorating it. There is always a guaranteed sigh of exasperation from the kids, and also an element of relief that even writers don’t get it all right the first time. I also show a strip dummy, galley proof, and the folded and gathered stage. This part of the presentation ends with the final product and a guess from the kids about how long the whole process takes.
Behind the Books Slideshows
There is also a wildlife show with bizarre information about the animals and my close encounters with wildlife over my 19 years in Africa. Many of these encounters appear in Our Secret, Siri Aang. By talking about my unusual lifestyle, which includes 36 years of travel to 106 countries on 7 continents, and learning 7 languages along the way, I hope to inspire kids that they can be and do anything they want. As one 5th grade girl told me, “I love to write and I love to travel, so I’m perfect for the job. Never thought of it before. Thanks.”
Audience: Grades 1st-12th.
All 3 books have a variety of common themes and so numerous discussion topics are possible. The presentation starts with a short reading then moves into discussions about other cultures, rites of passage, friendship, culture shock, acceptance, diversity, or about writing – wherever the students want to take it. I have had great success with this workshop as many kids ask questions they have wondered about, but not known where to go for answers. One teacher told me my visit made a shy, young Muslim student proud of, and comfortable about, his heritage for the first time.
Audience: Grades 8th-12th.
The “Non-Fiction Writer’s Workshop” is for teachers or students. It has been used as a tool for making report writing more fun and challenging by combining subjects, like Science and English Composition. The workshop is a lot of fun, with a high participation level as the exercise we do gives all kids something to write about and share immediately. It includes sessions on: Research, Organizing Information, and Five Steps to Writing a Good Article or report. The workshop is very flexible in design and scheduling.
Audience: Grades 1st-12th, or teachers.
The “Fiction Writer’s Workshop” can be for either teachers to help their students, or for students themselves to help them write. It starts with tips for getting started, followed by specific sessions on Plot and Character. Each topic has a handout, as well as a specific exercise to clarify the concept and to help writers get started. The workshop can be as short as one hour or as long as two days, depending on the scope to be covered. Each participant in the short workshop will have a good beginning to a story, and those in a longer workshop will be close to a first draft by the end of the workshop.
Audience: Grades 1st-12th, or teachers.
“Future Writers Lunch Program” is one of my favorite programs. I meet at lunch with a group of pre-selected students who are serious writers. We sit together in a special place and talk about writing over lunch. They ask whatever questions they have about any aspect of writing. Being taken seriously as writers is an important and encouraging event for the students. There is no charge.
Audience: Grades 1st-12th
Usually done by age groups.