Author/Illustrator School Visits

I love visiting schools! I’ve been an educator for over fourteen years, and have taught art, English and creative writing to students of all ages – from early elementary all the way to students in graduate school. My presentations are lively, interactive, and inclusive, so that even the quietest, shyest students have fun chiming in with their ideas.

Presentations can be tailored to focus more heavily on either writing or illustrating, depending on your school’s preference. Or, we can talk about both! I’m happy to adapt presentations to the needs of your curriculum.

All presentations are adjusted for grade level and group size as well. They run between 45-60 minutes long, and I always allow time for Q&A.


Let’s Talk About Writing!

  • What was it like to grow up as a day-dreamy kid in a multiethnic family? Where do ideas come from? What does it mean to trust those ideas? How do people become writers? Where do books come from? How do authors deal with the three R’s – rejection, rallying, and revision? What’s it like to be both an author and an illustrator?

Let’s Talk About Illustrating!

  • What does it look like for an illustration to go all the way from sketch to finished painting? What’s it like to illustrate a whole book? What kind of models/photos do you use for research? Can anyone be an artist? How long does it take to get a picture just right?

    The illustration portion of the presentation also includes some fun, interactive storyboarding.

  • Students learn to tell a story using both words and pictures, as they help me create a character with a story of their own. After creating our character, we come up with challenges for this character to face, and ways the character might go about solving them. These storyboards always turn out funny, smart, and super creative. Teachers love this because students learn about story structure, character motivation, visual scene construction, and the interplay of text and pictures. Students like it because they get to make up a character and story! I’ve been lucky enough to have students share hundreds of their stories with me, once they realize how easy it is.

Some School Visits I’ve Been On:

A teacher made this great collage of one of my visits. Among the characters that students and I have created: Bob the not-very-skilled Fairy Baker, who accidentally creates a murderous cupcake; Max the lonely zombie, friendless on his birthday bash; Sylvia the vet, whose dog patient talks back; and Marena the mermaid, who tries many unfortunate ways to move around on land.


“Students responded enthusiastically to such an immersive and participatory author presentation. They loved having their ideas and suggestions incorporated into the story…What a great way of valuing students’ voices and validating them as authors. Thank you!”

Heather Stephens, Librarian, McBee Elementary School, Austin, TX

“We were able to have all students K-5 meet with Salima. Her presentation was excellent, in that she showed the students the process from idea to finished illustration. She was engaging and the students related to her, even the youngest ones. Some of the teachers’ comments after her visit:

‘[Her talk] was so inspiring to our kiddos and we talk about it in writers workshop all the time.’    

‘Salima was really great yesterday including them in the creative process…’

‘…we liked her message. She was so positive; students needed to hear about work not being perfect at first. So glad we got to have lunch with her too…even I (an adult) needed to hear her message.’

We would love to have her visit again!”

Marilyn Cook, Olsen Elementary School, Port Aransas, TX

Fee for Author Visits:

$500 Half-day (2 presentations) in Austin

$800 Full-day (3 presentations) in Austin

$600 Half-day (2 presentations) plus travel and expenses outside of Austin

$900 Full-day (3 presentations) plus travel and expenses outside of Austin

To Book a Visit: Email me


Project WISE: Underfunded schools might be interested in checking out Project WISE – a grant program run by the Writer’s League of Texas, which helps bring authors into public schools. Project WISE visits are open to all K-12 schools within the Austin city limits. Each year WLT facilitates at least 50 visits to area schools and libraries, most of them Title One schools with at-risk populations and limited resources. Click here to look into getting a Project WISE visit for your school.

And, visit author Cynthia Leitich Smith’s page on school visits – a great resource for teachers, authors, and librarians.