School Visits
Irene loves sharing her passion for books, poetry and writing with public, private and homeschool groups. She is especially excited about the programs she has developed to include her poetry books, her newest novel DON'T FEED THE BOY, and her debut historical midgrade novel LEAVING GEE'S BEND. Schools may schedule one school assembly (1 hour) and one writing workshop (1 hour) per day (or equivalent, i.e. 4 30-minute sessions). Schools may choose to focus the writing workshop on either poetry or story writing.

Irene’s assembly presentation is titled “Adventures in Writing.” It includes information for students on writing as a career, personal stories about her journey to publication as well as interactive segments related to 1932 Gee's Bend, Alabama, as well as the working of a modern-day zoo. Irene includes students in the presentation and further entertains and educates by sharing historic photos and special props.

Suggested audience: K-8

Author's Honorarium: In-state: $1000 per day plus mileage calculated at the IRS standard rate (53˝ cents per mile as of 1-1-17). If the driving distance is over 2 hours, overnight lodging may be required. Out-of-state: $1500 per day plus travel expenses (flight & lodging).

In an effort to reach as many children as possible, Irene offers 2 "Pay-What-You-Can" school visits per school year. Also, in support of local students, Irene offers a 50% discount and waives travel fees for schools in the Birmingham, Alabama Metro area who schedule visits at least 1 year in advance. Please email for eligibility and availability.

Irene would love to have a special lunch with students who have read her book(s), or do an interview with your school or community newspaper. She is also happy to participate in book signings, casual breakfast, lunch or dinner get-togethers at no additional charge.

School visits, particularly assembly presentations, work best when the students are familiar with Irene and her work. Teachers and librarians are encouraged to make copies of Irene's books available to students in advance of any school visit. Pre-event sales of books can be arranged through a local bookstore or directly from Penguin (LEAVING GEE'S BEND) and Macmillan (DON'T FEED THE BOY).

Pine Pollen

Like a juicy apple
that's saying hello
to the morning
and I say good morning back.

- Linda L., age 8

"Irene's presentation was outstanding and inspirational. Her explanation of the writing process was very informative. The laying of the historical background to the book prompted many thoughtful questions from students and teachers."
- Kevin Moore, Principal, Underwood Elementary

The class really appreciated that you treated them as young authors. *

Very meaningful, with exampes from real authors, class sample poems, and reading aloud actual student work. *

The lessons were extremely organized, just as a teacher would do! *

(*responses taken from anonymous evaluation forms)

» Find out what others are saying!

Can I Touch Your Hair? Discussion Guide
Don't Feed The Boy Discussion Guide
Don't Feed The Boy Activities
Don't Feed The Boy Q & A
Don't Feed The Boy Scavenger Hunt
Leaving Gee's Bend Discussion Guide
Leaving Gee's Bend Q & A
Leaving Gee's Bend Literature Circle Questions
Leaving Gee's Bend Activities

How to Order Books for school visits
School Book Pre-Order Form

Finding Funding for School Visits


Irene is available for FREE virtual visits, via Skype*. This is a 20 minute program in which teacher and students prepare questions ahead of time for Irene to answer. This is also great for book clubs! Irene also offers instructional Skype visits at a minimal charge for schools unable to fund traditional school visits. These can be tailored to fit your needs: writing workshops (poetry or fiction), "the story behind the story," and more.

Please email her to discuss possibilities.

* Requires a computer, a webcam with microphone, speakers, a large projection screen and an account with Skype.


As a poet and novelist, Irene has a wide variety of writing and publishing experience to share with writers of all levels. Please email her to discuss honoraria and travel expenses.

Possible topics include:

The Story Behind the Story of LEAVING GEE'S BEND

Top Ten Things Writers Needs to Know About Plot

Market Your Book in Ten Easy Steps

Good is the Enemy of Great: How to Revise Poetry

Make Supporting Characters Work For You!

Voice Lessons: Revising for Voice

Writing Across Culture

Using History, Art & Nature to Write About Love and Loss

Irene is also available for panel discussions.