“Keir Graff has a special gift: he is able to light a fire in students and inspire them to become authors! We are fortunate to have hosted him at our school and encourage other learning communities interested in cultivating young authors to do the same.”
—Christina Tettonis, Principal, Hellenic Classical Charter School (Brooklyn, NY)
The author of two middle-grade novels, The Matchstick Castle and The Other Felix, I have presented to thousands of students in a wide variety of settings from coast to coast. I love the interaction—and I especially love hearing from teachers and librarians afterward when they tell me how excited the kids are about their own writing. If you are interested in bringing me to your school, please email me at keir AT keirgraff DOT com.
Currently, I am offering a 45-60 minute presentation about my latest book, The Matchstick Castle. After a brief dramatic reading to set the stage, I narrate a slide show in which I revisit my childhood in Missoula, Montana, explaining how I got the ideas for my book and how all of us can use our own lives as rich material for creative writing. I want to inspire young writers! Kids especially love seeing the weird and wacky real-life houses that inspired the fictional home at the heart of my story. We wrap up with a rapid-fire Q&A in which I roam the audience, encouraging the kids to ask me anything.
For schools interested in a different approach, I also offer a single-period workshop called “The Six-Sentence Story.” In it, I discuss the essential elements common to all stories and demonstrate how, with only six sentences, we can tell a story that satisfies our need for character, setting, premise, conflict, plot, and resolution. With the students, I brainstorm a class-generated story—then the students write their own.
If you have something different in mind, don’t hesitate to ask me. I am flexible!
The ideal audience for my presentation is 4th and 5th graders, although I have also had very successful events with 3rd and 6th graders, too.
What I Need from You
I will provide visual materials via PowerPoint on my Windows laptop or, if you prefer, a flash drive that plugs into your system. I have my own “clicker” to advance the slides. You will need to provide a projector and a screen.
I don’t need vocal amplification for a classroom setting, but find it works best in most larger rooms (libraries, auditoriums, cafeterias, gyms). I prefer a hands-free microphone so I can turn the pages of my book, advance slides, and gesticulate wildly, but I can work with a handheld microphone if required.
I charge $350 for a single presentation and $1,000 for a full day, plus airfare and hotel if needed. I understand that many schools are strapped for cash, so I will do what I can to reduce costs when budgets are tight, especially for schools willing to partner with booksellers to offer my books to students. If you want to have me come but are concerned about cost, please email me.
Book sales are crucial to supporting my work, and I love working with local independent booksellers to make my books available to kids in advance of my visits. Having a book signed and personalized by the author (I don’t just scribble my name!) helps cement the connection made during my presentation.
Many bookstores are willing to discount books by 10–20% for author visits, making them more affordable for students. I work with a wide network of bookstores and am willing to help you find someone who will work with you, wherever you are located. You can also order The Matchstick Castle directly from Penguin Young Readers at a discount of 40% if you prefer to handle sales yourself. You can then make the books available at your cost, or charge more and use the sales as a fundraiser—the choice is yours.
Tips for Hosting a Successful Author Visit
Author visits always work better when students and teachers know something about me and my latest book. For more helpful tips, please visit Penguin Young Readers’ school and library visit page.
Do you require a deposit in advance of a school visit?
No, but payment is due the day of the visit. In some cases I can offer 30 days to pay.
Do we need to sign a contract?
I don’t require one unless you do.
Will you take less money? We want to bring you but don’t have the budget.
Email me at keir AT keirgraff DOT com. And read this helpful article about finding sources of funding.
Can we record your presentation?
I allow and encourage photos and short videos but ask that you not record my presentation in its entirety.
Yes! I’ll support budding journalists in any way I can. (I worked on my school paper, too!)
Will you spend any time with students beyond your presentation and book signing?
If time allows, I’m happy to eat lunch with students and teachers, to stop by a special needs class, or to read a picture book to kindergartners—to name just a few examples.
Will you present to students outside grades 3–6?
While I sometimes talk to broader grade ranges as part of a larger group, the students who are most responsive to my books and my message are in grades 3–6, especially grades 4 and 5. As above, I can do brief visits with younger kids, and I generally do not present to students in grades 7 and above.
“We were so lucky to host Keir Graff at our school. He’s down-to-earth, personable, and kept the attention of our students. Students are still talking about his visit and reading his newest book weeks later!”
—Lisa Talbert, LMC Director, Highland School (Skokie, IL)
“What a special treat it was for our students to meet Keir Graff. His wit and fun facts captivated our students and his storytelling was magical. He encouraged not only reading, but also curiosity and even research (our students keep popping into the library to ask about odd homes). It’s also quite possible that he inspired a few future authors!”
—Heather Prince, Librarian, Hellenic Classical Charter School (Brooklyn, NY)
“Our middle-school students were mesmerized by Graff’s descriptive and zany excerpts from his book. They were held fascinated by his personal adventures to the peculiar houses visited on his own travels. . . . Many students who struggle to immerse themselves in novels picked up The Matchstick Castle later and were pleasantly surprised by how much they fell in love with the the eccentric characters and wondrous surprises awaiting behind every twist and turn of this well-crafted story.”
—Iva Quinlan, Media Specialist, Molalla River Academy (Molalla,OR)
“Keir Graff created an excitement amongst the students of our school! They generated thoughtful six-sentence stories and were thrilled to discuss them with him. His book, The Other Felix, has had a lasting ‘buzz’ as the students dig further into this creative story and compare Felix’s life events to their own. A visit from Keir was a valuable learning experience for our budding writers and insatiable readers.”
—Charlotte Kelly, Infant Jesus of Prague School (Flossmoor, IL)
“I am very aware that since we are taking away from class time an author visit should enhance what we are doing as educators. One of the things that impressed me most after Keir Graff came to visit was how our teachers responded . . . it was not just the content of his talk that impressed our teachers, they also commented on how Keir connected with the kids. He spoke in a manner kids could relate to and understand. Said one teacher, ‘Wow that author visit this morning was great, was he ever a teacher? Our kids really liked him, they are still talking about him after lunch!'”
—Lisa Nagel, St. Francis Xavier School (Wilmette, IL)
“Thank you for speaking to our third grade students! They are so excited to read your book! I’ll be ordering extra copies to meet the demand. The teachers were thrilled that you included information on the writing and publishing process. We can’t wait for your next book and would love to have you back at our school.”
—Linda Diekman, Learning Resource Center Director, Glen Grove Elementary School (Glenview, IL)
“Keir Graff had the children’s undivided attention . . . Mr. Graff shared the process he uses in developing a story, and connected it with how the children might write their own stories. The children clearly enjoyed the humor and personal story that he brought to his presentation. The fact that our copies of The Other Felix are flying off the shelf is a testimony to how much the children love the story!”
—Mary Ellen Schulz, Resource Center Director, Greeley School (Winnetka, IL)
“Red Oak School’s staff and students thoroughly enjoyed Keir Graff’s visit . . . Mr. Graff’s presentation was very professional, well planned and interactive.”
—Kate Strong, Library/Media Specialist, Red Oak School (Highland Park, IL)
“WOW! What a fantastic experience for my 5th grade authors, to meet a published author. Mr. Graff was able to inspire my students with his work and words. I now have more students telling me that they too want to become an author.”
—Sue Larson, Teacher, Rattlesnake Elementary (Missoula, MT)