When I stand before a group of students, I begin by introducing my books (by the end of 2017, I will have twelve children’s books in publication), talking a little bit about each one, and asking students questions about some of the well-known biographies. (With well-prepared students, this is a fun time!)
Depending on the amount of time you have allotted, my storytelling time—these are dramatic storytellings, not readings (see the Storytelling Presentations page for more information)—can take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes.
Then I offer a question-answer time. These student questions cover the range of subjects from the craft of writing to world missions to the various books I’ve written to my personal life to questions about the story or stories I just told. I consider this an important part of connecting with the students, and would like for it to be at least 15 minutes.
Then come the the classroom visits. Usually this means about fifteen minutes per classroom, answering more questions, passing out the books the students have ordered ahead of time, and in some cases describing the process that a book goes through from conceptualization to publication.
I ask for certain commitments from the school, because the school and the visiting author are teammates in accomplishing a goal: to inspire students to see the greatness of our God, to engender in them a desire to pray for and reach the unreached with the gospel, and to encourage them in the the craft of writing. A lot of work goes into preparing for a successful Author Event.
Before the Author Event
Prepare the students for the Author Event by having each class read and discuss as many chapters as possible from one of my books, either in the reading circle or as a teacher read-aloud, beginning several weeks ahead of time. As a thank-you to each school, we can arrange to have one of the Hidden Heroes books sent free of charge for your school to use. You can order more books ahead of time at a 50% discount off retail plus shipping.
You can plan writing projects, art projects, and possibly even research projects based on the book and the available Educator Resources, which are in the process of being added to both this website and the Christian Focus website, in order to facilitate the learning experience for the Hidden Heroes books—you can check there to see what I have so far for the book you’re studying.
Help students prepare thoughtful, directed questions for me when I come, so that the question-answer time can be profitable (though when the time comes, I’ll also encourage spontaneous questions, especially questions prompted by the story they will have just heard).
About three weeks ahead of time, send out a flyer—either by email or home with the students—to let parents and grandparents know, because they might like to attend too. I’ll be emailing you a copy of the flyer I usually use; you can modify it as you deem appropriate. Please also invite any local homeschool groups that you know of.
Send an email reminder again a few days before the event. These are always exciting times for me, and I want them to be the same for the families in your school. I love having parents and grandparents come to the storytelling, and they can even be involved in the question-answer time.
I’m asking schools to commit to the purchase of a certain number of books from me, which we’ll negotiate ahead of time, commensurate with the size of the school and the distance I’ll be traveling. You don’t have to commit to any particular titles; I’ll bring plenty to choose from. (I can also bring books written by my husband, Tim Davis—he has seven books ranging from early to upper elementary—and they can also be included in the count.)
Students can pre-order books, and I’ll be sending a form for them to do that, but experience shows that after my storytelling presentation, many students who were formerly uninterested in buying books are now very interested, so it’s important to allow them to buy or order books on the spot. (The school can offer a deal that if the books are pre-ordered they can be purchased at the author’s price, but if they’re ordered after the event, the price will go up. My price doesn’t change, so the school could make a little profit that way.) If my schedule allows, I’ll stay until school is over so that I can meet parents when they come to pick up their children.
When the Author Comes
Expect my arrival from 30 to 45 minutes before the event begins in order to set up. I do need to have a host or hostess (usually a volunteer parent), to help me navigate the school building, to help with setup, and to help record book sales and make change while I’m signing books.
The supplies I need from you include a table where I can place my props for my storytelling and a library cart for taking the books from room to room.
If I’ll be at your school over lunchtime, I’d love the opportunity to eat lunch with some of the students. If you choose students who are especially interested in writing or missions, that makes it all the better.
Before I depart, the school will purchase the necessary number of books to bring the total up the the number we agreed upon. In a well-prepared school, no additional purchases should need to be made at all.
And finally, if I’m traveling a distance so that I’ll need to stay overnight, I would appreciate being provided with a host home for the evening. I’m happy to sleep on a couch.
After the Author Event
Have the students follow up by writing to me, through either email or regular mail. I love getting letters from students—I’ve been receiving them for over 25 years, and I never grow tired of it. I always try to answer all of them. Some of the letters from students get posted on my website!
You and any of your students who are on Facebook can Like the “Hidden Heroes Missionary Stories” page, where I’ll be posting updates about release of new books, audio-recordings, school visits, books I’m researching, and other pertinent information about this new series.
If you consider the author visit a success, and if your students enjoyed my books, please let other educators know. I would greatly appreciate your help in getting the word out to other people about some of these great things God is doing around the world.