School Visits

Sometimes, I present to students in the quiet comfort of a school library. Other times, in a more wide open space, like an auditorium, cafeteria, or gymnasium. Where ever I present, there’s nothing more that I enjoy than engaging students through an author visit.

I am now back to presenting in person—how exciting! I love visiting schools virtually (and I will still present that way when requested), however nothing quite replaces being with students in person. 

I approach the content of my presentations from both an illustrator’s and author’s perspectives. My presentations offer a solid integration of the Common Core Curriculum Anchor Standards for reading, writing, and speaking & listening.

My presentations are lively and engaging, with a goal of getting students excited about reading.

For schools desiring virtual presentations, I can present through such programs as Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, or whatever platform best meets your needs. To keep students attention, my virtual program is rich with visuals, and as interactive as ever. And my drawing demonstrations are even better—the kids in the back row of the auditorium now take a front seat!

Please contact me at dontate2 at gmail dot com, or reach out to my booking agent, Carmen Oliver.

Photos copyright Eric Solman



“You were ah.mazing. I loved everything about your time with the kids – you were accessible and honest, you connected beautifully wth the things that 8/9 year-olds care about, you conveyed such important lessons not just about writing, but also about life.”
—Shana, Teachers College Reading and Writing Project

“Highest commendations are due to Don Tate for his absolutely stellar presentation . . . I have hosted a good many authors throughout my 25 years as a librarian, and I must say that no one so delivers and engages, as does Don Tate. . . . Pure magic is on display thanks to Mr. Tate, the master of making literature so engaging for youngsters.”
—Constance, Heath Public Library, Boerne, TX

“While watching Don’s keynote this morning, I casually mentioned to Isaac (5.5 years old) that the guy who was talking is an author and illustrator. . . . Isaac is really into drawing and making his own books right now and he loved the message of not giving up on your dreams and seeing all of the artwork that he has created over the years.” 
—Emily, State Library of Iowa

“Thank you Don Tate for having a wonderful Zoom meeting. It was so fun to watch you draw. It was a pleasure to see you. And again thank you very much.”
—Fin, 3rd grader, Ohio


Download my new Core Curriculum State Standards Annotation Guide for School Visits.

Topics covered:

  • Two Hats: the differences and similarities of creating as both an author and an illustrator
  • Poetry Analysis: Compare and contrast two poems
  • You’re Something Special: Discovery of the talents that lie within
  • Nonfiction Focus: A perpetual childhood interest
  • Dialectical Tales: Retellings of a time-honored folk tale
  • Revision and Research in Action: The crafting of non-fiction picture book
  • Media Manipulation: My life as a book crafter
  • The Illustration/Revision Process: Thumbnails and story boards
  • Lots of Drawing! I draw, the students join me.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the length and content of your visit?

Depends on the grade level of the children and the size of the group or groups.

A typical presentation lasts anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes. Shorter presentations are particularly better with younger children.

With very young children, pre-K through 3rd, I like to tell stories while sharing original artwork from my books. I have also illustrated some humorous poems. I like to read a few poems while showing the art.

I use plenty of visual aids such as dummy books, rough sketches and final paintings. I end my presentation with a question/answer session or by drawing cartoons of a few children, time permitting.

With children grades 4 through 8, or large groups, I show slides or Powerpoint presentations. This allows me to show more work and discuss process in detail. To show how I have grown and progressed as an artist, I show some of my artwork from my childhood, high school and college years. I talk about how I was able to get my first book published and how my family and friends inspired and encouraged me.

For older children, 8 through 12, I use slides or Powerpoint, discussing individual pieces and my experiences in depth. I encourage questions throughout to make my presentation more of a group discussion.

Please group students according to grade level for presentations.

What do you charge for visits?
Contact me  personally about honorarium requirements. I’m flexible. Many schools have partnered to share expenses. I travel fairly regularly to the following destinations: Corpus Christie, Dallas, Forth Worth, Kansas City and Des Moines. Schools in these areas are invited to inquire about coordinating events with pre-scheduled trips.

Click here to inquire about a school visit.

But I don’t need you for a whole day, can you come for an hour at a reduced rate?
I’d be glad to make one or two presentations at your school, at reduced rate. Please contact me to discuss.

What additional things do I need for a school visit?

  • Presentation projector (I’ll arrive with my laptop, a MacBook Pro)
  • Large easel for drawing demonstrations
  • Drinking water
  • Amplification is always welcome, even for smaller groups.
  • I’m a big coffee drinker

How can I prepare students for your visit?

Please have the students read a few of my books. Contact me for suggestions about current books. Library author-illustrator visits are much more exciting and meaningful to students who are familiar with my work. Consider having students do classroom activities or discussions related to the books. Kids will love to share their stories and experiences with me.

A detailed schedule must be sent to illustrator at least two weeks prior to visit, in addition to hotel and travel arrangements.