Arranging School Visits

Some great readers and book lovers from Elkhorn, Nebraska.

Some great readers and book lovers from Elkhorn, Nebraska.


Enthusiastic readers and writers from Kaegebein Elementary School

As an author, I love the opportunity to meet and talk with my readers. As a former school librarian who once arranged author visits for my school, I’m familiar with “both sides” of the process! I know how schools work, and understand some of the constraints under which you have to operate. Working together, we can create a day that is both fun and meaningful for your young readers and writers.

Kids helping out

It’s fun when kids and teachers participate. Here, they help me tell the story OLD GRANNY AND THE BEAN THIEF.


Kids helping out

Hobart college hockey players prove that no one is too old for a good picture book!

What I Do

I most often speak to children in grades K-6. Sessions for students in Grades K-2 last 30-35 minutes. For older grades, sessions are about 45 minutes. I talk about getting ideas, about how ideas can be turned into stories, and then I show how a story gets turned into a published book. The depth of this discussion varies according to age and knowledge of the audience. I try to show my love of writing and to motivate children to write and read themselves. Sessions for grades K-2 always include storytelling, and I am happy to include some storytelling in sessions for older students, if you wish.

What You Can Do

I’m sure you realize that an author visit is much more meaningful when the children are familiar with the author and her work. Therefore, I do ask that children read several books before I come. For older children, this means reading at least one novel. This allows me to use concrete examples from a book when discussing particular aspects of writing. It’s helpful if all the students within one group have read the same novels. Then we’re all “on the same page,” so to speak, and questions, answers, and discussion will have meaning for everyone.

My visit should not take place in a vacuum. Every activity you undertake before I arrive helps to make the day richer and more exciting and involving for the children. When classroom teachers, special area teachers, administration, and parents all come together to prepare children for the big day, the results can be astonishing! My visit becomes much more “real” to the students when it is woven into the context of their day-to-day school experiences. I’d be happy to talk with you about the many creative things schools have done to prepare for author visits in the past.

The Set-Up

I like to have the students as close to me as possible. Therefore, auditoriums are my least favorite venue. (If you think an auditorium is your only option, please tell me ahead of time so we can discuss it.) The children seem so far away and the feel is too formal. I like to have them seated on the floor, right up close. Cafeterias and small gyms are fine. The media center is ideal, if space allows. A music room or other special area can work well, too. The more cozy and intimate the feel, the better.

A cozy, up-close and personal visit is ideal.

I need two (or even three) large tables and a microphone that leaves my hands free. This can be a body mike, or one on a stick mike stand (no podium stands or hand-held mikes, please — I need my hands free to talk and show things. A nice loud, clear mike on a microphone stand is preferable to a weak or unreliable body mike.) ****The microphone is really important**** My doctor tells me if I keep speaking without adequate amplification, I’ll be out of commission completely! PLEASE try out the microphone BEFORE I get there to make sure it’s working.

A diet coke or pepsi with caffeine is always appreciated!

Autographing books gives me a chance to meet my readers one on one.

Autographing books gives me a chance to meet my readers one on one.


I am always happy to autograph books. This may be done in one of two ways. You can collect the books and I will sign them as time allows during the day. Or, children can line up to have their books signed in person. This is more time-consuming, so your decision may depend upon the numbers of books and the tightness of the schedule. I leave this up to you.

In either case, it is very important to have a sticky note on the front of each book with the name(s) of the recipient(s) clearly written and correctly spelled.

Other Details

I generally do 3 sessions a day. Fees are available upon request. Sponsors should plan on paying for travel (air fare or mileage if farther than 1 hour driving distance) and lodging (non-smoking room in any reasonable hotel/motel) expenses. Travel expenses can be shared with other area schools. Three days in a row with travel on either end is about all the time I like to be away from home. Please don’t schedule events before and after school without talking to me first. I prefer to use my voice and my energy during the assembly programs!

Please contact Cynthia directly to arrange school visits at​.

Book Ordering Information for Schools, Libraries, Conferences, and Other Non-Profits Hosting an Author Appearance

If you are planning an author appearance, books can be ordered from a local bookstore or wholesaler, or on-line sites.
Many of Cynthia’s titles may be ordered directly from Farrar, Straus & Giroux. FSG requests that you call at least eight weeks in advance of her visit. When you call, be sure to mention that the books are for a school visit, and make sure to give the date.
Farrar, Strauss & Giroux Publishers
Publishers of the following titles:
Casey in the Bath (in paperback only)
The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker
The Ghost of Fossil Glen
Nowhere to Call Home
Death at Devil’s Bridge
The Ghost and Mrs. Hobbs
The Real, True Dulcie Campbell
Old Granny and the Bean Thief
The Ghost of Cutler Creek
Under the Same Sky
The Missing Manatee
One Potato, Two Potato
The Ghost of Poplar Point

Please contact (for book orders only):
Carol Monteiro