An inspirational speaker
– Librarian, Highfield School, Hampshire
The students have talked about your visit ever since
– Librarian, Mountbatten School, Romsey
The best author visit we have ever had
– Librarian, Headington Prep School, Oxford
Author visits to primary and secondary schools are always worthwhile. They inspire children to read for pleasure and even to write for pleasure. I am currently taking bookings for author visits in the UK for 2016 and 2017. To book me for an event or to find out more information, please email me at email@example.com
In addition to the sessions described below, I regularly conduct Able Writers Days for gifted and talented pupils.
I am DBS cleared, with an enhanced disclosure certificate.
Author visits to primary schools – KS1 and KS2
When I visit primary schools I usually do a half hour assembly followed by four writing workshops with KS1 and/or KS2. There is no limit on assembly numbers, but a workshop should have no more than thirty pupils.
Here is a rough outline of what I do in primary school assemblies and workshops.
- Introduction to the Fulani people of West Africa
- A short story from my book of Fulani folk tales
- ‘Five ingredients of a good story’ (a picture stack with actions)
- Q & A
Key Stage 1
These sessions focus on my picture book DON’T SPILL THE MILK, which is illustrated by Christopher Corr. I use various visual aids (turban, staff, calabash, one-string guitar, tea stove) to introduce the setting of the book, Niger in West Africa. We read the book together and the class acts out the journey. Then children imagine an extra scene in the character’s journey and create an extra spread for the book. They draw illustrations in the style of the original and craft sentences with rhyme and rhythm.
Key Stage 2
1. Creating an interesting character (Years 3 to 6)
These sessions emphasize the importance of creating three dimensional characters for our stories, and demonstrate the idea that plot flows from character. We use images of children from around the world (from the book WHERE CHILDREN SLEEP) to inspire ideas for characters. We do a whole-class exercise, creating an interesting character and then coming up with story ideas for that character. Having had this skill modelled for them, children work in groups of four, developing their own character based on a photograph. The groups take it in turns to present their character to the class and discuss possible ‘what ifs’ for that character.
2. Trickster Tales (Years 3 to 5)
This workshop is based on my book of Fulani folk tales, where a wily rabbit pits his wits against a greedy hyena. We do a quiz that highlights the importance of the ‘trickster’ figure in ancient and modern storytelling, from Anansi to Puck to Robin Hood to Bart Simpson. Then we use various concrete examples to tease out general characteristics of trickster figures. Finally, children work in twos to create and present their own trickster characters. This workshop is a great introduction to stories from other cultures.
Author visits to secondary schools – KS3 and KS4
How to write an exciting chase scene (workshop: Years 7 to 9)
The session begins with a three minute montage of chase scenes from films: The Matrix, District 13 and Planet Earth 2. This stimulates general discussion of chase scenes in fiction: Why do we enjoy them and how do storytellers maximize the excitement of these scenes? I elicit from the students a set of instructions for writing an exciting foot chase. We discuss techniques such as close POV, show-don’t-tell and how to maintain pace.
Students work in groups to create a chase scenario for the beginning of a thriller, and then do ten minutes of speed writing, employing the techniques we discussed. Four students read their work out loud. We discuss what is already effective and what could be even better. This workshop goes down well with years 7 to 9, particularly boys.
How a novel comes to birth (talk: Years 7 to 10)
With reference to HACKING TIMBUKTU, I break down the process of planning and writing an adventure novel, from idea to execution.
The Seven Basic Plots (talk followed by workshop: Years 7 to 10)
This lecture is based on Christopher Booker’s wonderful book THE SEVEN BASIC PLOTS. What does Jaws have in common with Beowulf? What does the Epic of Gilgamesh have in common with Star Wars? I introduce the basic plots in an hour long lecture, and then we experiment with them in a workshop. Fantastic practice for analyzing and building stories.
Travel writing (workshop, Years 7 and 8)
A few years ago I was named Travel Writer of the Year by the magazine Africa Geographic. Since then I have continued to publish travel features in many magazines and newspapers. Travel writing was my first love, and I enjoy talking with students about how to squeeze the juice out of a place or memory.
How much do author visits cost?
I charge £400 for a full day (four sessions, up to an hour each), £285 for a half day (two sessions) and £180 for a single session.
Testimonials for Stephen Davies’s visits
Thank you for coming to visit us on Friday. The children had a great time and we had so much positive feedback. A few children have been to see me today to tell me that they have gone out over the weekend and got themselves a writing journal, which is absolutely brilliant.
Sam Benford, Warren Park Primary School, Havant
Stephen visited our school on Monday of our Book Week. He had communicated very clearly in advance about his workshops and put together a great programme based on our daily timetable and the numbers in each year group in school. He was happy to sign books at lunchtime for part time students, and at the end of the day – and ended up staying an hour longer than expected! Stephen had a lovely manner with the students, making them feel at ease to offer ideas. He led a whole school assembly as a powerful start to the day, and his key stage two workshops on building a character were particularly inspiring. Many teachers went on to use this in the classroom during the week with excellent results, and several reluctant writers went on to create their own stories. This was the best author visit we have ever had – thank you Stephen!
Julie Sale, librarian, Headington Prep School, Oxford
We had a great author visit as part of our Book Week. Every class fed back to me and thought you were inspirational. The children are eager to read your books in our library. We are due to have two settees and more bean bags delivered tomorrow.
Alison Ainsworth, Deputy Head, Cinnamon Brow Primary School, Warrington
I have been getting feedback from the students, and they really enjoyed your visit. One of them told me (unbidden) that he had learnt about the importance of creating a good character and thought it would greatly increase his fiction writing skills!
Margaret Taylor, Librarian, Henry Cort Community College, Fareham
Stephen came to talk to Year 4 about his life in Burkina Faso, which is the source of inspiration for his books. Year 4 were enthralled, learning (amongst other things) how to wind a turban and how to meet and greet in the local language. An inspirational speaker, Stephen held all sixty children in the palm of his hand – not to mention the staff as well.
Cluny Paget, Librarian, Highfield School, Hampshire
Hi Steve. Thanks for all your hard work on Monday – We were all hugely impressed by your ability to engage the students. I have had nothing but really positive feedback. The students have talked about your visit ever since.
Sue Moody, Librarian, Mountbatten School, Romsey
Your enthusiasm and encouragement for the students was amazing. They are all busy creating adventure stories and are inspired to read more because of you.
Billie-Jean Clark, English teacher, Buttershaw College, Bradford
Stephen Davies came to our class to talk to us and we were blown away. This was the first time we actually thought of writing as a fun thing to do. He gave us some background info on some of his books. Imagine hearing how a character in a book you read was made! He made writing seem natural and “cool”. I think many of us are thinking about writing as a hobby now. I certainly am.
Mahima Kumar, Year 10 student, International School of Dakar
We had the wonderful privilege of having an author visit from Stephen Davies last month. Mr Davies knows what he’s writing about as he lives in our same setting. I would thoroughly recommend his books and if anyone would have the chance to have him visit their school, he made a huge impact in just a short time! Thank you Steve!
Cathy Bliss, librarian at Sahel Academy, an International Christian School in Niamey, Niger.
I am currently taking bookings for author visits in 2016 and 2017. To make a booking or to find out more information, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org