Tod is author of the How to Get Rich books and the LOST series, a growing canon of history’s iconic survival stories. It’s his mission — as a writer and a speaker — to convince kids that narrative nonfiction can be every bit as gripping as the best fiction. He believes the world needs more books that educate not by lecturing but by telling stories that are impossible to put down. When writers accomplish that task, they can open the world to kids who thought they didn’t like to read.

LOST books have been finalists for the Dorothy Canfield Fisher award and the Keystone to Reading award. How to Get Rich was a Booklist Best Series Nonfiction for Youth selection. Tod holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Vermont. Visit him online at

Tod likes to do a multimedia presentation to multiple classes followed by two small-group classroom workshops that build on the large group presentation. He also loves to interact with especially engaged kids in small Q&A lunches.

Story is Struggle

Grades 3-6 (adaptable for 7-8)
50 minutes

Good stories, like good lives, don’t happen unless people are wrenched into doing things that scare them. Tod makes this point by weaving his own personal story into an interactive retelling of two stories that inspired him as a kid: the survival of the Andes plane crash victims in 1972 (the Alive story) and the Freedom Rides of the Civil Rights movement. What was it about these stories that was so important to a shy, cautious kid? How did that same kid go on to become an author? And what does all this tell us about why story is important to everyone?

Shape of a Story

Grades 3-6 (adaptable for 7-8)
45 minutes

Stories are a huge part of our lives. We read them, write them in class, watch them in movie theaters, tell them in conversation. But what is a story, exactly? Is it a recreation of the experience it captures? No, a story is experience transformed or shaped by the storyteller. And good stories are shaped in a certain way. They have structure, a skeleton. They have a beating heart. Tod will tease out the elements of story in a fun, interactive session using examples from his large-group presentation, from the class, and—embarrassingly—from his own life.

Adventures in Research

45 minutes

The past is a distant land and research is the bridge we use to get there. But building the bridge is hard—especially for beginning writers. How does a nonfiction writer go about uncovering sources? Which sources are useful for which purposes? What do you use to recreate moments vividly? How do you reconstruct what your characters were thinking and feeling? In this workshop, Tod tells the story of a couple of LOST books, gets the class to brainstorm how they would dig up information, then shows them his own detective work. Along the way, students develop a healthy skepticism about the relationship between written words and the experiences they describe.

Conference and Festival Appearances

Survival of the Fittest

45 minutes

Survival stories—fiction and nonfiction alike—are some of the most dramatic, compulsively readable narratives we have. Along with creation stories, they are also among the oldest. In fact, you can make a case that survival narratives are the archetypal story form. Why are we compelled to watch while humans are driven to the brink of starvation, dehydration, hypothermia, and exhaustion? What role have these stories played in our cultural history? And what can we learn from them about the elements that make any great story impossible to put down?

Virtual Visits

Tod is happy to visit with classrooms, book groups, and library groups for 30-minute Q&A sessions via Skype or FaceTime as his schedule allows.

AV and Tech Needs for In-Person Visits

For large group presentations Tod uses a PowerPoint presentation. He prefers to use his own MacBook and remote, but will also bring the presentation on a USB drive. He will need a projector and screen, and a remote if using a school computer.


For rates and fees please fill out our Author Request form and the Author Visits Manager will respond shortly.

Ordering Books

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