Author Visits

Stephanie S. Tolan

Author Visits

Stephanie S. Tolan, author of 23 books for children and young adults, has visited schools in many states, sharing her love of reading and writing with students in many ways. She has participated in Poets-in-the-Schools, then Artists-in-Education programs sponsored by the Pennsylvania and Ohio Arts Councils and served as writer in residence at the Cincinnati School for the Creative and Performing Arts, Chapel Hill High School in Chapel Hill, NC, and the Emma Willard School in Troy, NY and worked with educators on encouraging creativity and imagination in the classroom. Now her usual school visits are single day programs at one school; sometimes a district brings her in to visit several schools over several days.

"When I visit a school," Mrs. Tolan says, "I usually do one large scale presentation for the whole student body (or the students of the chosen grade levels -- usually fourth/fifth, sixth through eighth, or senior high school) and then three or four talks to individual classes. Sometimes I have lunch with students, sometimes with teachers, and occasionally I combine my two fields of interest and give an evening presentation for parents of gifted students. This is particularly true when the school visit is organized around my novel, Welcome to the Ark and Flight of the Raven. During some school visits I work with students on their writing, during others we stick to discussions of my own work and the life of an author (at least my version of it).  Autographings may be arranged when schools have arranged to sell my books to students. I do not provide individual autographs to students who don’t have a book of mine to be signed, but I will provide an autograph that the school may copy and make into bookmarks for all the students.

"The school that wishes to create a day with an author for its students can pretty much create its own structure as long as I'm not asked to cover more than four classroom periods in addition to the large assembly. My experience shows that students get very little from an author visit when they have no point of reference with that author's work, so it's important that the students I interact with in the classroom visits be familiar with at least one of my books. Most often teachers read one of my books aloud to the class; sometimes a paperback edition is used as a class novel."

In addition to the dramatic adaptation of Surviving the Applewhites, Mrs. Tolan has also written, in collaboration with Katherine Paterson and composer Steve Liebman, three plays with music: "Bridge to Terabithia," "The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks," and "Jemima Puddle-Duck." The first two are available for production by theatres, community groups and schools through Samuel French, Inc., 45 West 25th St. New York, NY 10010. “Jemima Puddle-Duck” is available through Dramatists Play Service, 440 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016.

When one of their plays has been produced by a professional theatre Mrs. Tolan, Mrs. Paterson and Mr. Liebman have occasionally visited a local area school to talk about the challenges of adapting novels and stories for the stage with students who have seen (or are about to see) the production, or they have offered a question/answer session at the theatre after a performance of the play. Though these visits are not available for school productions, residents of areas with professional theatre companies may be able to arrange such an event in collaboration with the theatre. 

Fees and further information about author visits are available by contacting:

Author Visits / Conferences / Festival Requests

Tony Hirt
Author Visit Coordinator
HarperCollins Children's Books

Stephanie Tolan may be contacted at

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Last modified: February 21, 2012