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Presentations and School Visits

Lesléa Newman loves to visit schools, libraries, community centers, and writing conferences to talk about books and writing. She offers several programs to readers and writers of all ages and is happy to travel near and far to meet you! For information about schedules and fees for in-person presentations, please contact Lesléa directly by email or by phone at 413-552-3865.
 
For descriptions of programs and to read what others have to say, see below.
 

Leslea shows students a photo of her cats.
           Lesléa shows students a photo
              of her cats.

See a  List of Places where Lesléa Newman has presented.

Read the Article about Lesléa visiting Schreiber High School on Long Island.



Programs for Elementary and Middle School Children

Books, Books, Books!
 
Lesléa Newman's enthusiasm for reading and writing is contagious! Using her most recent picture books about animals as examples, she shows students how a book is created from start to finish. Her presentation uses many "show and tells" including early handwritten drafts with plenty of words scratched out (even adults don't always get it right the first time!), artist's sketches, book dummies, press sheets and more. With photographs from her childhood, she shows students where her ideas come from, and how her friends and pets appear in her books. The idea that everyone can be a writer--all you need is a pen, a piece of paper, words and your imagination-- is repeated over and over so that by the end of the presentation, children are eager to rush back to their classrooms and write. The message of this interactive presentation is that reading and writing is fun,fun, fun!
 
Audience: grades 1- 5, Length: 45 minutes, including Q&A
 
Books featured: Remember That, The Best Cat In The World, Cats, Cats, Cats!, Dogs, Dogs, Dogs!, and Pigs, Pigs, Pigs!

Wan Wan means Woof Woof: The Story of Hachiko Waits
 
Lesléa Newman's novel, Hachiko Waits, is based on the true story of the famous Akita who lived in Japan from 1923 until 1935 and spent the last ten years of his life waiting at the Shibuya train station for his master's return. Lesléa Newman has always been an animal lover, and as soon as she heard Hachiko's story, she knew she wanted to write about it. In this presentation, she shares how she traveled back in time and across the ocean without leaving home (well, she did spend a lot of time at the library). Using photographs, artifacts and early drafts of the book, Lesléa Newman will discuss how she went about her research, what she discovered along the way, and how she rewrote (and rewrote and rewrote!).
 
Audience: grade 3 to adults, Length: 45 minutes (including Q&A)

Dreidels, Maidels and Ladles!
 
Lesléa Newman's enthusiasm for reading and writing is contagious! Using her most recent picture books about Jewish families and holidays as examples, she shows students how a book is created from start to finish. Her presentation uses many "show and tells" including early handwritten drafts with plenty of words scratched out (even adults don't always get it right the first time!), artist's sketches, book dummies, press sheets and more. With photographs from her childhood, she shows students where her ideas come from, and how the people in her family, especially her beloved grandmother, appear in her books. The idea that everyone can be a writer--all you need is a pen, a piece of paper, words and your imagination-- is repeated over and over so that by the end of the presentation, children are eager to rush back to their classrooms and write their own stories about their own families. This presentation reinforces the author's pride in her Jewish identity, and shows how the strong Jewish values she learned as a child carry over into her adult life and writing.
 
Audience: grades 1- 5 Length: 45 minutes, including Q&A Books featured: Remember That, Runaway Dreidel!, Matzo Ball Moon

You're the Poetry Lady!
 
In this experiential workshop, Lesléa Newman releases the natural poet that lives in every child. After explaining that we already have what we need to be poets (something to write with, something to write on, words and imagination) Lesléa Newman will guide students to work as a "poetry team" and write a group poem. Then each student will write an individual poem. Poems will be read aloud (anonymously if the poets wish) and enjoyed by all. The goal of this workshop is for every child to have a positive experience with writing.
 
Audience: Grades 2-5, Length: 45 minutes (works best with 25 students or less; Lesléa Newman is happy to visit up to four classes in one day)



Programs for Teens and Adults

He Continues To Make A Difference: The Story of Matthew Shepard
 
This program uses poetry, photographs, and creative visualization to explore the impact of Matthew Shepard's murder on the world. In 1998, Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, robbed, beaten, and murdered in Laramie, Wyoming. Lesléa Newman was the keynote speaker for Gay Awareness Week at the University of Wyoming that year, and arrived on campus the day that Matthew Shepard died from this horrendous hate crime. She spoke to a devastated campus and community, and vowed to work to erase hate from that day forward. Her forthcoming book, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard explores the impact of Matt's murder in a cycle of 68 poems. Written as fictional monologues in a variety of voices including the fence Matt was tied to, the stars that watched over him, and the doe who kept him company, this powerful presentation challenges audience members to look deep inside themselves and find a way to make a difference to create a safe world for everyone.
 
"The best assembly I have seen in 12 years of teaching." -- Sara Barber-Just, Amherst Regional High School
 
Audience: 9th grade through 12th grade, and adults
Length of program: can vary from 40 minutes to an hour
Size of audience: small group through large assembly

 

It Takes a Village to Raise a Children's Books Writer
 
Lesléa Newman loves to quote her favorite statistic: "One-hundred percent of all authors had, at one time in their lives, never published a book." How does one move from writer to author? With a little, and sometimes a lot of help from her friends, including teachers, editors, mentors, colleagues and other writers. In this presentation, Lesléa Newman shares the journey she has been on since she was eight years old and made the decision to become a writer. As the author of close to fifty books, she has a lot to say about where ideas come from, how to write and rewrite (and rewrite and rewrite) and how to nurture your beginning drafts into a finished manuscripts that become books. She reads excerpts from rejection letters and editorial letters (you may think once a book is accepted your job as a writer is over, but in many cases it is just beginning) and talks about book contracts, how authors get paid, book promotion and publicity, working with agents, editors and art directors, and the importance of writing groups. Plenty of visuals including handwritten drafts, art samples, book dummies, press sheets, contracts, author questionnaires and much much more.
 
Length: 45 minutes to an hour (including Q&A)
 
I Love It, But...The Author/Editor Tango
 
Someone once commented to Lesléa Newman, "It must be easy to write a picture book. There aren't even that many words!" Rest assured, even the simplest picture book has gone through many drafts. In this presentation, Lesléa Newman reads first, second, third and fourteenth drafts of two very short picture books, interspersed with actual letters from editors at top New York City publishing houses, to show the audience just how an author and editor work together to bring a book from idea and first draft to final product. Audience members will be surprised at how many drafts these picture books have gone through, and the amount of thought, time and effort that goes into a manuscript that contains less than 400 words. Featured books: Where Is Bear? and Skunk's Spring Surprise
 
Write from the Heart
 
A wonderful writer named Elsa Gidlow once said, "Writers are not special people. Every person is a special kind of writer." Lesléa Newman firmly believes that everyone has important stories to tell and the ability to tell them. This workshop is for those who want to write but think they have nothing to say, or those who know they have something to say but don't know how to say it. Using simple writing exercises, participants will learn how to use memory, observation skills and imagination to write stories that express the emotional truths of their lives. No previous writing experience necessary. Each participant should bring something to write with, something to write on, and an open heart and mind.
 
*Note: Workshops with specific goals and/or focus can be designed to suit the needs of your group, whether you are all beginning writers, all experienced writers, or some combination thereof. Examples include: Writing the Novel, Character Development, Dialogue, Poetry, Revision, The Business of being an Author, Writing the Picture Book, etc. Suggestions are always welcome!
 
Length: 1 to 3 hours, weekend and week-long workshops also available.



What others have to say:

"Recently I was fortunate enough to watch Lesléa Newman give a program on writing to third and fourth graders at R.K. Finn Ryan Road School. Throughout the hour, Ms. Newman captivated her young audience and teachers alike. As a parent representative on the school council, I was happy to note that her program was directly tied to the required educational standards for language arts. It was fun and educational too. Wow! So many wonderful things happened in that entertaining hour that taught us the importance of everyday life in the writing of books. Ms. Newman made writing accessible to us all by sharing her process with us. She demystified writing and made writing an activity that was attainable for each of us. She left time for the children's questions and answered each enthusiastically. By the end of the hour, we all knew where to look for great book ideas: books, and the people, animals and circumstances of our lives. The children had each taken ten giant steps forward toward writing their own unique, funny of serious story. I'm left with the image of a third grade boy who stood in line waiting for Lesléa to autograph his book. He sat next to me and kept repeating, "This is so exciting, this is so exciting!" Hire this woman; she is an educational gem for our children!" --Joanne M. Gangi
 
"Our class loved your visit! You kept my first graders engaged with your stories and photographs, drawing them into the writing process (and the mind of you, the writer) in a way in which they could relate. There was a nice correlation between your published work, with which they had some familiarity, and you as presenter--in person you are as lively and funny as in your books! Cats, Cats, Cats! and Pigs, Pigs, Pigs! have been a big hit in our classroom. I am thrilled to add your books to my teaching repertoire! Thank you so much for sharing your craft and your life with our children!" --Mary Bates, Jackson Street School, Northampton, MA
 
"Lesléa's presentations were well prepared, beautifully presented, interesting, and insightful. We received only positive feedback from all of her audiences. We have never had a visiting author that was capable of presenting so many different programs to so many different groups within our community. Whether addressing adults, high school students, or nursery school students, Lesléa was able to capture her audience and hold their attention: answering questions with grace and candor. She was a pleasure to work with -- very warm, personable, professional, flexible, and generous with her time. And, during the course of her visit, we sold over 200 copies of her books, which was a wonderful fundraiser for our institution." --Rachel Kamin, Director, Temple Libraries & Media Center, W. Bloomfield, MI
 
"As Children's Department Manager at Beyond Words Bookshop in Northampton, MA, I had the pleasure of working with Lesléa Newman on two different occassions. Both were events at the bookstore designed to promote Lesléa's wonderful children's books. These events were attended by families of all ages. Lesléa's graciousness and light-hearted banter kept all entertained. Her work is delightful and accessible to children. The lyrical quality of the prose engages even the most finicky of listeners. Lesléa will inspire any persons fortunate enough to work with her." --Jennifer Murphy
 
"Lesléa Newman is a terrific advocate for children and reading. She's direct, funny, full of information, and a wonderful writer, too. If I had a school, I'd invite her. And make her stay for dinner as well!" --Jane Yolen, author of over 250 books including Owl Moon, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and The Devil's Arithmetic
 
"We had the honor of having Lesléa Newman facilitate our retreat in July 2003. Some of the comments we received on our evaluations included: "Exceeded my expectations", "Absolutely great","I'm amazed at how much writing I accomplished." I would highly recommend Lesléa to any group who wants to grow in their creativity. Because she is equally gifted at facilitating hands-on workshops or giving talks, she would enrich any type of workshop or conference on children's books and writing for children." - Denise Vega, Steering Committee, SCBWI (Rocky Mountain Chapter)
 
"In the course of my three years at Lee College, University of Judaism, we have had many invited speakers in the Department of English and Literature. But in my experience, few have had the kind of creative impact on our students that you did in your reading in March. Your warm and engaging presentation encouraged them to see their own life experience as a well of resources upon which to draw in their work, perhaps the finest gift a poet can share with young people." - Miriyam Glazer, Ph.D., University of Judaism
 
"Lesléa's presentation, "He Continues to Make a Difference: The Story of Matthew Shepard" is not to be missed. If you wish to expose your students or your community to poetry of the finest quality, a message of depth and kindness, and an experience that will remain with them forever, book Lesléa today. " --Sara Barber-Just, English Teacher, Amherst Regional High School, Amherst, MA
 
For more information about bringing Lesléa Newman to your area, send an email to leslea@lesleakids.com.

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