Author Visits

During my presentations I focus on the writing process, beginning with humorous stories of how I got this or that idea, then worked it into a scene, or chapter, or book. I discuss the importance of character development, and the choice of setting and its impact on the story. There is lots of emphasis on rewriting, too, complete with drafts from various phases. And of course I answer questions and do a reading. My goal with all of the above is to be entertaining and fun, but more importantly to help demystify the writing process as much as possible, and give the kids concrete ideas on how they can approach it the next time they sit down in front of blank paper or a blank screen, or a writing assessment.

In terms of how a typical day in a school is organized, ideally I communicate closely with the coordinator to set up a schedule that works for their staff and kids. Often this simply turns out to be four large group presentations of about 45-50 minutes each, kids divided by age, and autographing. There is an alternate approach to consider, however, that I'm finding very valuable: Begin with 2 large group assemblies, (ie: 1 primary, 1 intermediate, 45-50 minutes each), then follow up with small group Q&A sessions (length of each determined by the number of students participating, but totalling no more than two hours). This way the kids hear my take on the writing process in the large group sessions, then go back to the classroom and discuss it, and with the teacher's help come up with questions that reflect exactly where they are in the writing process themselves. So when they return for the small group sessions it's more interactive and I can tailor what I talk about specifically to meet their needs. The feedback I've gotten on this approach from kids, teachers, and principals has been very positive, and it doubles their time with me.

Although I generally do one school per day, I am happy to do two (2 presentations each) if they are close enough in proximity to make the shift at lunch. This cuts the honorarium expense in half for each school, and makes it possible for many that couldn't afford it otherwise. Another way to cut costs is for more schools to get involved (it's not unusual for me to be in an area for five days in a row, doing up to ten schools), and the schools share expenses. The more days booked, the more bang for the buck!

What people are saying about Tom Birdseye's visits:

"What an incredible experience to have Tom at our school. For an entire week he held the kids' attention, excited them about reading and writing, and honored all teacher requests to cover special topics. Tom's flexibility, good humor, great read aloud skills and rapport with the students made him an instant hit. His aura remained weeks after he departed and students are still engrossed in his many excellent books. Tom is a treasure! Hire him immediately." - Judyth Lessee, Librarian, American International School of Dhaka, Bangladesh

"I could not have dreamed a better presentation full of humor and insight." - Sarah Howard, Children's Librarian, Columbia, Missouri

"A huge hit! When authors from the conference are mentioned, (Tom) comes to the top every time." - Cecelia Solomon, Florida Association for Media in Education

"Tom did a fabulous job at our schools. His talk held even the squirmiest kids still and his writing lessons reinforced what teachers were saying. He is flexible and accommodating. We will have him back!" - George Pilling, District Library Media Supervisor, Visalia, California

". . . expert combination of experience as a teacher with skilled writing and playful story lines to stimulate interest in reading and writing." - David Groth, teacher, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

" . . . wonderful job . . . significant pieces of the writing process presented . . . all benefited and will be inspired to write more themselves." - Polly Stapley, Board of Cooperative Educ. Services, Mt. Morris, New York

"Rave reviews!  Tom has a knack of connecting with students! -  Donna Gwinnup, Librarian, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

" . . . so many positive comments from teachers . . . we now have kids pulling out notebooks and furiously jotting down writing ideas throughout the day." - Connie Baker, Librarian, Hazelwood Elementary School, Renton, Washington

" . . . a great workshop on writing for children. Clearly, every person felt she or he learned a lot and left feeling enthusiastic and energized." - Martha Moutray, Director - Writing Works Center, University of Arizona, Tucson

"Made an impact on our entire school!" - Alecia Marcum, Librarian, Bowling Green, Kentucky

"A pleasure for students and staff . . . In fact, I think I'd have a hard time deciding who enjoyed the visit the most . . . entertaining, eloquent, funny, and sometimes poignant . . . a natural at telling a yarn . . . obviously respects and enjoys the audience he writes for . . . words of encouragement will serve as an example for many aspiring writers - those who already enjoy writing, as well as those who have yet to discover the writer inside" - Andrea Lynch, Librarian, Beaverton, Oregon

"Such a great job . . . We have received nothing but wonderful words of praise from the teachers and children." - Mary Alice Horton, Librarian, Aurora, Indiana

"Background as a teacher was obvious . . . very entertaining and shows a great ability to gear the presentation to different age groups . . . very inspirational . . . I wholeheartedly recommend inviting Tom Birdseye to your school." - Catriona Moran, Principal, Nishihmachi International School, Tokyo, Japan

"Veteran teachers said, 'He's the best author we've ever had!' and 'How did you find someone so good with the kids?' Thanks, Tom, for making me look good. :-)" - Sharon Olson, Librarian, Troutdale, Oregon

For information regarding fees and available dates email Tom at, or give him a call at 541-602-5755.