Teachers & Librarians

Penguin Young Readers

Adam Gidwitz

Adam Gidwitz went to college at Columbia and thought about majoring in religion, and then in philosophy, but ultimately chose English literature. After graduating, he stayed in New York and took a job in a second grade classroom at Saint Ann's School, in Brooklyn. He now teaches second grade, fifth grade, and high school, writing half the time and teaching the other half.

Visit Adam Gidwitz and learn more about him and his books at www.adamgidwitz.com.

If you are interested in having Adam Gidwitz make an appearance at your school, library, or conference, please use the online request form or send an email to authorvisits[at]us.penguingroup.com with possible dates, your school name, location, details about the day, and your contact information.


Author Appearance Q&A with Adam Gidwitz :

What can a school, library, or conference expect when you are making an appearance? What do you do differently with audiences of varying sizes, ages, and interests?

I've got a wide range of interests, and so I like to do a lot of different things, depending on the crowd. When I talk to first and second grades, I just tell them a story, and then I ask them questions about it and we explore it together. When I talk to adults, I like to talk about what children's books can do for children, and some of the psychological underpinnings of what I do. And for my core audience, that third to sixth grade group, I read something exciting and maybe a little bloody, and then I ask them questions, they ask me questions, I make jokes, they make jokes, and we have fun. At my school I teach second graders, fifth graders, high schoolers, and adults, so I'm pretty flexible.

What makes your author appearances unique?

The demonstrations of Grimm-style dismemberment, particularly Cinderella's sisters' toe- and heel-shaving. It's a little bloody, sure. But I do bring my own bucket and sponge for afterwards.

No, actually I think it's that I like to ask the group as many questions as they ask me; kids in particular want to talk more than they want to listen, and I think they naturally learn as much when I'm letting them sort through their own ideas out loud as when I'm blathering at them.

Do you enjoy making appearances for adult audiences? What do you do when presenting to adults?

I love it. As I said, we talk more about the ideas, the theory, behind writing for children. I can talk about craft, certainly, but my specialty is the psychological and theoretical underpinnings of children's fiction. I teach a class on children's literature for adults, and I find that parents and teachers and librarians do excellent thinking about what children's books can do for children; we just don't talk about it enough! Or at least, not in the way I like to talk about it. That is, with a bucket and demonstrations...

Do you enjoy traveling to other parts of the country for appearances?

Yes! I have friends all over the country, and would love to have an excuse to visit them. Also, if you have any culinary specialty in your area, just promise to take me to the best purveyor of said specialty and I will be in your zip code in a heartbeat.

Do you ever make appearances at more than one school in an area? Could schools and libraries from one area join together to bring you to their institution?

That would be excellent. Maybe we can organize a dodge ball game between the faculties, too. The kids would love it.

What do you hope your audience will come away with from your presentation?

That children's literature, and particularly those dark and grim fairy tales that we rarely read these days, are fun, strange, hilarious, and deeply powerful. Also, that the world of the imagination is just about as wonderful as any world there ever was, ever will be. And it is a world that children can own, explore, and be free in.

What was your favorite appearance experience?

I was reading from my book to a group of second graders, and was coming to a part that had a bit of blood. In my book, the narrator (me) periodically warns the children when something that they might find upsetting is going to happen. This is, of course, just a technique to get the kids even more keyed up for the bloody event that's about to occur. EXCEPT, that I was reading to this second grade class, and I said, "Are there any little children in the room right now?" And then I explained that a bloody part was coming. Well, this little tow-headed boy slowly raised his hand into the air. I called on him. He said, in the highest little squeak you've ever heard, "I think I should leave." So I said, "All right. That is very mature of you." And he nodded at me, and got up, and left the room. Thirty seconds later, he came back in, and I had just finished the bloody part, and I winked at him, and he smiled at me, and he sat back down. And that is why I think kids are much, much better than grown-ups.


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