School Visits

      Diane travels all across the U.S. with her popular, dynamic, grade-leveled school and library presentations, inspiring the most reluctant student to read and the most hesitant student to write!

    She makes her visits easy on the Media Specialist by providing several copies of her books for preview, a handout announcing to the teachers about the upcoming visit, a Book Order Form (she uses an independent bookseller to handle book sales or your local bookstore ), and the contract.  She also provides an Author Visit Checklist, with activities and suggestions so both the teachers and students are well prepared for a smooth running visit. 


For All Presentations  

Cost: $495 for two sessions, $195 for each additional session  + some travel and                 lodging outside Metro Atlanta.  Minimum cost  $495/day.                                             If 3 schools book consecutively, mileage/flight  fees waived.  If 4-5 schools book                                   consecutively, ALL travel and lodging fees waived. 

Maximum Sessions:  Up to 6/day

Audience Size: Up to 150-175.  (200-250  if you have a very, very large drop down screen, not a tripod or smartboard)

Location: Prefers the media center, but gym, cafeteria,  for larger groups

Class Curriculum: Language Arts, History, Character Education

(Evening/Parent  Presentations Available for $250)


Contact:                 Phone:  404-642-8949


A-Rockin’ and A-Read Aloud!   (PowerPoint Presentation fast paced like Sesame Street)

Pre-K – 1st Grade (30-35 minutes)

A fter a rip-roarin' rhyming riddle contest, Diane shares with the kids one of her non-fiction articles published in Highlights for Children. (Find out what George Washington’s false teeth are actually made of…it’s NOT wood!) Next she shares how she wrote poetry by changing the words of familiar nursery rhymes.  She then shares a few of her poems published in Humpty Dumpty, Spider, and Jack & Jill. Several of the poems are hidden picture poems or guessing games, so the kids get to play along. The kids also guess to which songs she wrote the poems. Ex. “You better watch out, you better beware!  You better believe you’re in for a scare.  Halloween is coming tonight!” 

     Next, Diane tells the students how her first book started out as a poem called School Bus Bop. "But the rhythm kept going on in my head and I kept getting more kids on the bus, so I decided to turn it into a picture book." Comparing herself to the Little Engine that Could, Diane shares in her trademark humor, her story of perseverance (and frustration) as well as elation when after 23 rejections on School Bus Bop and 385 rejections in total, she finally sold the story.  She was so happy she jumped over the neighbor’s house! (Well it looks like she jumped over the neighbor’s house anyway!)  Diane then reads an excerpt of the original School Bus Bop and compares it to the published Bus-A-Saurus Bop. Next she shares Create-A-Saurus pictures  (Football-A-Saurus, Dust Bunny-A-Saurus, TV-A-Saurus, etc.) that other kids have drawn, and briefly talks about ideas and creativity.

      In Reader’s Theater style the kids act out Rosa Loves to Read, a Rookie Reader about loud and soft noises.  (Kids get to stand and make noises, moving in place and one child is chosen to play the part of Rosa). With Filbert the squirrel puppet the kids help Diane Look Both Ways.   She also reads an excerpt from the French and German versions, which is a HOOT!  

     She then asks the kids to close their eyes as she reads the first two lines of This Is the Feast, and tells them to create a picture in their mind.  She then shows the first page of “Feast” and they compare the visual in their head to the actual picture.   She wraps up with a quick introduction of the real Bradley Harris Pinkerton, the main character in her new I Can Read!™, How to Drive Your Sister Crazy and how a "small moment" inspired the story (write what you know!).  It’s an inspirational, educational, interactive (shh! it’s also educational) celebration of literacy that motivates kids to read and write!


A-Rockin’ and A-Readin’!     (PowerPoint Presentation fast paced like Sesame Street)  

2nd-4th grade (45-55 min)

Diane starts out with "Kite Flying", a concrete poem and  "Flower Fluster" a matching game where students match up flowers with the places they are to be delivered.  (For example:  The Sweet William belongs to Bill's Candy Shop, the Trumpet Flower belongs to Blair's Music) then shares with the students her nonfiction article from Highlights titled "Wheels in His Head" – The Story of the first Ferris Wheel".  (Did you know that it was built for the 1893 World's Fair and held 2,160 people!) She has pictures and antecdotes she shares with the students. 

Next Diane tells in her trademark humor, her loooong journey to publication.  It took 9 1/2 years, close to 400 rejections, and a forest of sloppy copies before my first book Bus-A-Saurus Bop, was published.  The author started out writing poetry by changing the words of nursery rhymes.  "It took three years before my first poem was published."  She shares her hidden picture poems, "Show and Tell" and "Deep Pockets" (kids get to find the items hidden items) and another poem titled, “Hey Sport!” where kids have to guess which sport the verbs (What's a verb?  An action word!) in the poem are describing.   She shows the different ways Bus-A-Saurus Bop, originally titled School Bus Bop, changed during the editing phase. (Wait'll you see all the red marks the editor made!) She then reads an excerpt of the book. 

Next she shares with them some pictures from her Create-A-Saurus Activity(Skateboard -A-Saurus, TV-A-Saurus, Dust Bunny-A-Saurus) that other kids have drawn and briefly talks about ideas and creativity. She then introduces the the French and German versions of Look Both Ways and reads an excerpt in German. (It’s a hoot!)   She talks about the events of the Civil Rights Movement in This is the Dream,  shows how writers "paint pictures with words in This is the Feast,  and the “small moment” (write what you know!) that inspired How to Drive Your Sister Crazy.  It's an ultra-energetic, interactive, and inspirationsl (shh! it's also educational, but don't tell the kids that!) celebration of literacy! 

In addition, there is a 5-10 minute question and answer period. These kids ask a LOT of questions.


Poetry Party!  (Fast paced PowerPoint Presentation)

4th-6th grade (45-60 min)

"And they thought they were just having fun!" is Diane's theme as she takes students through a school day of stories, poems, and more.     Students learn:

  • alliteration           
  • hyperbole
  • internal rhyme
  • personification
  • metaphors/similes 
  • onomatopoeia
  • rhythm/meter
  • hooks/beginnings
  • revisions

       Using  her trademark humor, Diane recounts her road to publication, and how she started out writing poetry by changing the words to nursery rhymes.   She shares sloppy copies and rejections and compares the first draft to the final.  If time permits, she shares her own books as well as stories and poems published in HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN, CRICKET, SPIDER, TURTLE, HUMPTY DUMPTY and other children's magazines.  It's an energetic, educational, and inspirational performance that gets children excited about reading and writing poetry! 




Meet Ellinor Billington 17th Century Pilgrim

Pre-K-4th grade (45 minutes)

maximum of 45 students

     Diane performs and teaches about 17th Century America as Ellinor Billington, a colorful and rather opinionated colonist, who along with her troublesome husband and two mischievous sons traveled to the New World aboard the Mayflower in 1620.

     In Pilgrim costume and Olde English language, Diane, through Ellinor's eyes, answers questions and shares stories of the Mayflower voyage, that first year of hardship in the New World, and everyday life in 1627 Plimoth. Includes a hands-on, interactive demonstration of 17th Century European and Native American children's toys and games.  You'll play Hoop and Stick, Whip Top, Cup and Ball, Stick Pin(and more!) and learn how to write your name with a quill pen! 


An excerpt of Diane's performance:
"I'm a wee embarrassed to tell you about the time my sons got into a bit of trouble with some squibs -- gunpowder -- and nearly blew up the Mayflower! Now my sons, like all boys, are somewhat mischievous. I did overhear Goodwife Hopkins say they were rude and rotten and didn't mind orders, but that was when she was great with child, and we all say things we don't mean when we're a might uncomfortable, and besides, they do mind orders, it's just that my lazy husband doesn't give them any!
Nevertheless, we had set upon this wild wilderness, coming from a city no less, to these intamed shores, where 'twas none but wild beasts and wild men (wearing not but a stitch of clothing) that greeted us..."

     It's an entertaining, engaging, and educational time travel that brings history to life!  Diane is the author of This is the Feast (HarperCollins) an engaging read-aloud with lyrical text and rich, warm art recounting the Pilgrims' harrowing journey to the New World, their first year as settlers, and their celebration of friendship with the neighboring Indians.

Writing Workshops for Students   (Artist in Residency also available)*  


Write On! (4th-6th grade)  One hour 

 Fictional/Creative Narrative  OR  Personal Narrative 

 Designed  to help students enjoy learning the craft of writing, this workshop will have your students painting pictures with words and at the same time take the stress out of assess.  With an emphasis on personal and fictional narrative, and creative writing, these fun, interactive, hands-on activities will put your students on the “write track” for the statewide writing assessment.

Topics covered: (Creative Narrative):

My popular “Write On!” workshop, includes a story glove and the five parts of a story which I explain in detail and with examples:


    1) Hook,   (students will write a 2-3 sentence hook)

        a) setting/time

    2) Problem

         a) conflict

         b) challenge

         c) something out of the ordinary

     3) Plot/Action,

     4) Solution/Climax

     5) Wrap Up/Ending


The above  is the frame work or skeleton of your story.  Now it’s time to put some flesh on it.  I share tips and techniques and have several hands-on, interactive exercises:

    Vivid Verbs and Colorful Words

1)      Strong verb activity   (includes a punching bag and gloves and two student contenders 

2)      Metaphors/Similes     (guessing game)

3)      Show DON’T  Tell    (participants have to act out feelings (Ex. Physically hurt, frightened, angry, etc.

    Onomatopoeia                   (listen for the sound in the poem)

    Hyperbole                           (poem)

    Fire Up the Senses! (students close their eyes and hear, taste, smell, feel (tactile) and see  in their mind different phrases. 


    Dialogue/Dialogue Tags


Revisions  (“words to avoid” song)

Students will then revise their hook with what they have learned


Topics Covered: ( Personal Narrative)

     1.Personal Narrative Organizer 

       a. hook sentence(s)

         b. setting/time

         c. lead events/main event/subsequent events

         d.  wrap-up/take away

See creative narrative above for all other topics covered.


* Artist in Residency is 3-5 days of  in-depth writing -  Programs/prices vary. Please call for details.



POETRY PARTY! (Workshop)

     Tired of hearing that collective groooooan when you announce to your students you’re starting a poetry unit?  Don’t despair!  Creating poetry can be fun, challenging, AND enjoyable for both students and teachers. Learn the benefits of poetry in the classroom and how your students can experience and explore the rich language, the rhythm, and the expression of feelings that all go into making a poem!              


Target Audience:  3rd - 6th grade        Length: 50 minutes

 Poetry Party! Workshop Objectives:

 1. The goal of this program is to introduce the benefits of teaching poetry, and to share a variety of methods for writing poetry in a fun, enjoyable way that students will both understand and appreciate.  

Standard 1. I will introduce a variety of poetry forms (couplet, quatrain, haiku, limerick, shape), provide steps, guidelines, and games to make poetry writing successful and pleasurable.

Standard 2. I will discuss the rich language of poetry through a variety of poems focusing on the poets’ use of imagery and figurative language: alliteration, metaphor, simile, onomatopoeia, internal rhyme, end rhyme, hyperbole, homonyms, puns, and personification.

 Standard 3.  I will discuss various ways students can share/display their poetry.



Diane- It was our pleasure and privilege to have you come to our school. I have heard nothing but “raves” about your presentations and how you geared them toward the particular age group. One teacher said she thought that it was the best author visit that Blue Ridge had ever had in over 15 years of having author visits! I also had kids stop me in the hallway and say they really liked the author!  You made me look good!  It was a win-win situation!


I hope to see you at some of the conferences.