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What Good is a School Visit?

The only guest speaker I remember coming to my small town elementary school was a magician. Close-up magic. Rabbits from hats. Invisible coins. The whole works.

I got kicked out halfway through the performance.

Apparently one is not supposed to scream "ENCORE" at the top of one’s lungs after every single illusion. I was seven. How was I supposed to know? I honestly thought that’s what you did when the world expanded in front of your eyes.

No amount of explanation or apology would get me back into the show. But I had glimpsed one of life’s great secrets. I knew that a world existed beyond my own experience.

I remember feeling that same buzz of excitement and hope the first time I met someone who’d had a book published. A real live author. I was in my 20s by then, and knew slightly better how to behave.

But even as a young adult, I could hardly contain my excitement. I listened as someone told the story of a rich life filled with prose and poetry, research and art, travel and adventure. And then this author told us that such a life was available to anyone willing to put in the hard work. Even me? I wondered. That speaker changed the course of my life.

That’s the point of bringing authors, musicians, performers, and yes, magicians to your schools. Show a student that they aren’t stuck within the only world they’ve ever known, and they might take a step toward a different life. One step might lead to two. And very soon you might see them achieving what you thought impossible. When you think about it, it's kind of like magic.


Nothing makes me happier than the chance to spend time with students. Whether we're drawing elephants and puppies with the littlest ones or envisioning ocean cleanup devices with older students, we always have a great time. If your school would like to invite me for a visit, please review my author visit kit. And the first student who dares to yell ‘ENCORE’ gets to sit with me at lunch. I’ll even share my tater tots.

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