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Visit Kit

Deborah Hopkinson Author Visit Kit

September 13, 1942
Current home
West Linn, Oregon, United States of America


PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

Deborah Hopkinson is the acclaimed author of more than forty award-winning books, including Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt and Courage & Defiance, Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark. Her widely acclaimed nonfiction books also include Shutting Out the Sky, an NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor Book and a Jane Addams Peace Award Honor book; Up Before Daybreak, a Carter G. Woodson Honor Award winner; and Titanic: Voices from the Disaster, a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Honor and Sibert Honor book. Deborah lives with her family near Portland, Oregon. 

Description of the Author’s Presentation

With more than 40 books, Deborah is able to adapt her presentations to complement school needs. She presents to students in grades PreK–8 as well as to educators, librarians, and families at family literacy events. I also frequently present writing workshops to students as well as adults. She is also happy to adjust the focus of her sessions or the featured books to complement curriculum or seasonal themes.

Grades PreK–2  
What Makes a Writer? 
35 minutes
Kids always want to know: How do writers get ideas?  In her presentation for PreK-2, Deborah explores where ideas come from, and how similar the writing process is for all writers. The presentation is humorous and fast-paced, with an emphasis on the importance of reading (lots of dogs reading). She tells stories with art from several picture books (including Apples to Oregon), and reviews some of the things writers need: practice (and lots of it), perseverance, and passion. The primary message: Readers Make Writers!

Grade 3
Imagine the Past
50 minutes

Deborah's presentation for third graders introduces students to research and history through picture books such as Sky Boys and Stagecoach Sal. (There is lots of singing!) As with her presentation for older students, they look at how words and pictures work together. They look at art and also imagine themselves as an illustrator deciding what their pictures need to show. This session can include a writing activity around Apples to Oregon where Deborah leads students through a fun activity of “writing a letter to a person of the past.” Depending on time, this can also be done orally.  

Grades 4–5
History Must Be Seen
60 minutes with writing activity

Deborah's presentation for students in grades 4–5 includes a writing activity (using Titanic or Apples to Oregon), depending on time (this usually requires 50-60 minutes) and group size. She examines how illustrators and authors create historical fiction and nonfiction books. Using work-in-progress slides and photographs from Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, Under the Quilt of Night, and Sky Boys, students see how real-life visits to museums, family history, and old photographs can help inform research. Deborah also shares The Great Trouble and Titanic.

Grades 5–8
Everyone’s Story Matters
50-60 minutes

This session is designed to share Deborah's own passion for history and also help readers think more about writing and research. She hopes to encourage an interest in historical fiction and nonfiction, while also sharing research tips to help students be successful in writing papers in middle school, high school, and beyond. We talk about the research process for The Great TroubleTitanic, and Courage & Defiance, Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in WWII Denmark.  

Grades 4–8 Writing Workshop
Imagining Past Lives
45 minutes

For students in fourth grade and up, Deborah also does a writing workshop centered around an actual family who sailed on the Titanic. They begin by doing close reading of a letter from Harvey Collyer to his parents about the family’s first day on board; we examine the events of the sinking from his wife Charlotte’s point of view, and then students imagine themselves in her place as she must break the news to Harvey’s parents of his death. She walks the students through each step and there is time built in for peer sharing and also sharing letters with the whole group.

Family Literacy Nights
Scheduling a family evening event the night of an author visit is a great way to involve parents and support children’s reading. Deborah likes to begin the evening with the principal and librarian or parent volunteer reading one of her books, and then she follows with a short, participatory presentation for all ages. If desired, she can arrange for a fun family writing activity around Apples to Oregon while she sign books or refreshments are served.

Conference and Festival Appearances

Deborah loves attending librarian and educator conferences as a speaker and does so frequently.


School/library visits: Deborah's fees outside of Oregon are $1850 a day plus travel, reduced to $1800 a day if she goes to more than one school in the same area, with travel costs shared. That is for four sessions or three sessions plus a writing workshop. She is also willing to do a family literacy night for no additional charge.

Conferences: $2000

Please contact the Scholastic Author Visits team for information.

Ordering Books

Schools and libraries may order books at a discounted rate by visiting The Scholastic Teacher Store or by calling 1-800-SCHOLASTIC.

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