Jennifer Armstrong

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School Visits

If you would like me to visit your school, please contact me as far ahead of time as possible, at least two or three months. I visit elementary, middle schools and high schools. My basic presentation is a PowerPoint show on the writing process, publishing, and my career as a children's book author.

I am now also available for online school visits. Click here to see my movie about online visits.

If you've never had an "Author Day" before, here's how it works. Group the students by age into no more than three groups. If you have a.m. and p.m. Kindergarten, sprinkle them among the older children. The K's will benefit from hearing the older students' questions. If we're going to be in a big room such as an auditorium or gym, please have a microphone available.

Before author day, have all the kids read or be read one of my books. There's something for everyone on the list. I also insist on a book sale, and here's why: when kids have an autographed book, or at least have the option to get a book, it makes the day much more memorable. Authors are like rock and roll stars to kids -- give them the opportunity to gave a meaningful keepsake. I can autograph books on author day.

If you want an in-service writing workshop for your teachers after school, please contact me ahead of time with any particular writing challenges your teachers are struggling with in class. The in-service writing workshop can be a mini-course on creative writing or nonfiction writing, and will cover specific writing exercises teachers can use with their students. It is 1.5 hours long. Needless to say, there is an extra charge for the writing workshop.

If you'd like me to visit your school, we will choose a good date and a snow date, if necessary. If you're far away from me, we'll have to discuss travel arrangements. Once we have a date scheduled, I'll ask you to send me a letter of confirmation from your principal on school stationery. Then we're all set and ready to go. Please email me for fees and how to qualify for a discount. Also, please click here to read my terms of service for school visits.


Author Day Checklist

  • Confirmation letter signed by principal and sent
  • Invoice/check request/payment paperwork completed and check made out to author
  • Travel arrangements confirmed if necessary
  • Directions sent
  • Schedule finalized
  • Author's books displayed in media center
  • Students have read or been read the author's books
  • Books ordered --OR--
  • Bookstore will be bringing books to sell
  • Books sorted and checked against orders
  • Autographing slips filled out and put in books
  • Lunch arrangements made (Attention! I don't eat meat of any kind! No fish, no birds, no four-legged beasts. But cheese pizza and a salad from the cafeteria is perfectly adequate!
  • Program room set up; make sure the equipment for projecting a PowerPoint presentation is working
  • All teachers have schedule

Tips for First Timers

If you've never had an author visit your school before and you would like to make the author's books available to your students to purchase there are a couple of ways to go about this:

The first, and more complicated way, is for you to contact the wholesaler or distributor which sells books to your school library. You are likely to receive a good discount for the books, and can either pass on the savings to your students or sell the books for the retail price and keep the difference. This can be an effective fund-raiser for your HSA or PTA, and it can help offset the costs of author day. However, you need a lot of lead time for this, and you definitely need a committee dedicated to running this part of the program. With more than one publisher involved, it can get complicated, especially if you have to go to more than one distributor to get the books you want.

The second, and much easier way, is to have an experienced bookstore handle this for you. Many bookstores offer some kind of discount to schools, and they are accustomed to the book ordering process. If you need a recommendation for a bookstore near you, contact me.

Either way, be sure to familiarize the students with the books well ahead of time. Give them a chance to become eager to buy a book. Send order forms home well ahead of time, too. It can take a long time for books to arrive from the publisher's warehouse or distributor, and when you need them on a particular date, it's better to be safe than sorry. When the books are in, each book should have a slip with the student's name and classroom on it, and clear instructions on how to autograph the book:

"Happy Birthday, Justin, from Jennifer Armstrong"
"To Kaitlin, a Good Reader, from Jennifer Armstrong"
"autograph only"
"autograph and date"

Then the books can be kept in the media center, autographed methodically, and given to the students at the end of the day. When a student has an autographed book, she is more likely to remember author day with great excitement. Bringing the joy of reading to kids is what this is all aobut, and so although it might sound self-serving for an author to push for big book sales, it really will give the event more impact. Don't assume anything about your kids' willingness or ability to buy books: sometimes it is the most economically stressed areas that buy in big numbers.

The more people you get involved in author day, the better. Invite special guests to the media center or classrooms ahead of time to read the author's books to the students. Get the principal involved, the cafeteria crew, the gym teacher, the bus drivers, parents, community leaders -- everyone! If Author Day is a BIG DEAL, you'll really get across the idea to your students that reading matters. A well-run Author Day is fun for everyone. Good luck in planning yours!


Is your school equipped for PowerPoint presentations?

I have developed PowerPoint programs on

  • Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World and Antarctica (grade 4+)
  • How I write books and get them published (available at three levels: K-2, 3-5, 6-adult)
  • A presentation on The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History

Ordering Books

Books go out of print unexpectedly, or "out of stock indefinitely." There is nothing I can do to control this, unfortunately, and sometimes I'm the last to know. It may be that they've used up all the books in a print run, and the book isn't scheduled to reprint for a couple of months. Sometimes they just haven't decided if they are going to reprint or not. If you usually order books through a distributor or from a bookstore that orders from a distributor, you should know that their databases sometimes have incorrect information. If you aren't sure whether a book is available or not, or if you are having trouble working with your distributor, please contact the School/Library Sales department at the publishing company so you can find out if the book is really unavailable or not. Please ascertain which books are available before you send order forms home with the kids! Please do your book ordering at least one month in advance to avoid disappointment.


Contact Me

If you want to contact me about a school or library program, or about speaking at a conference, please click here to email me.

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