I'm like a proud grandpa about apes: I'll pull out bonobo photos at drive-through windows, airport lines, anywhere. I'm happy whenever I get an opportunity to talk to students about our closest relatives--and to talk, too, about the fascinating countries they live in.
When I visit schools, in my large presentations I generally start by talking about what makes an ape an ape, and then go into the essential differences between bonobos and chimps and how it can help us examine our own human origins. Then the fun really begins: we talk about my sideways entry into primatology through the purchase of a certain pair of pants, then it's on to videos of my time in Congo and some candid moments I filmed with the irrepressible bonobos. I link the apes' physiological adaptations with their culture, and also talk about the nearby human societies, and how their interactions with the environment put animals in jeopardy. I speak, too, about how examining ape politics can help us to understand our own culture. It's all punctuated with adorable bonobo video from my time in Congo, so even the most reluctant kid will find plenty of interest. Because the presentation focuses on much more than writing process, there's plenty of fodder for follow-up discussion among science, history, and English classes.
Often, I just give multiple lectures. If I meet with a smaller group, though, I'll often do an informal chat or a writing workshop. So far in workshops I've focused on plotting, identifying the elements that make a successful story and working with students to construct their own high-functioning storylines.
I've met with as young as 4th-graders, adapting the material I present accordingly and speaking about my work on the Sprit Animals series. The ideal audience for my ape books, though, is between 6th and 12th grades.
However fun it is, a day visiting schools is a day I'm not writing, so I do ask for schools to pull together a fee, that is donated in full to a non-profit. The kids get to choose which one! (I'd also hope to have my travel/lodging covered.)
For classes that have read one of my books, I'll do a Skype/GoogleHangout visit for free!
Digital resources for author visits can be found here.
The Cincinnati Library System had me out for their "Teen Reads" week, and posted a great list of resources, including discussion questions, here.
I hope I get to meet you and your students someday soon! For more information, or to schedule an author visit, please reach me directly through the "Contact" link above.