My books span picture books, early readers, middle grade and YA, so I have lots to talk about with children of all ages.  

 

I've given presentations and workshops at conferences and festivals including:

  • TD Canadian Children's Book Week 2018

  • Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Awards Week (Silver Birch), Toronto

  • Ottawa Public Library "One School, One Book" program, featuring my novel Lost in the Backyard

  • Hackmatack Atlantic Canada Award week, Halifax

  • Story Avenue 2017, Young Alberta Book Society, Edmonton

  • Calgary Young Writers Conference, Calgary

  • Young Alberta Book Society's Taleblazers Festival, Alberta 

  • Monsignor Fee Otterson Young Authors Conference, Edmonton

  • Word on the Street Festival, Toronto

  • Writers in the Schools program, Canadian Authors Association, Edmonton and area

  • Sherwood Park Young Author's Conference 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through the Young Alberta Book Society, I am an approved vendor for EPSB and CPSB.  I have also been a writing mentor and manuscript editor for adults with the Writers' Guild of Alberta.

 

All my presentations are relaxed and interactive, and all are easily adapted into curriculum-linked writing workshops.  Below are a few details, but please contact me for more complete presentation descriptions, or for developing a presentation tailored to your group. 

Presentations, Workshops and Festivals:

Valuing Yourself and Your World! (K-grade 2)

My book What Matters explores how small actions can have big impacts, and shows how each of us can make a difference in our world. While the focus is on recycling, small acts like smiles or hugs are important, too! Because after all, each one of us is important and deserving of love and respect.  My picture books Gerbil, Uncurled (about a gerbil who sleeps differently than the other gerbils in her busy cage) and Spare Dog Parts (about a very loving, oddly-assembled mutt) lead us into talking about valuing our unique gifts and celebrating our differences. Activity-wise, we might assemble a (felt) dog out of spare parts, root through a bag of recyclables, go for a scamper in a gerbil tunnel and maybe even sing a few songs. 

Curriculum links: The importance of community; being a good citizen; finding your unique place; inclusion and valuing difference; problem-solving in a group; sharing and showing respect for others

Staying Alive: Writing Survival Stories

(grades 4-9)

Could there be a topic more thrilling than survival?  This popular session (interactive presentation or a writing workshop) is based on my latest novel Lost in the Backyard. It explores getting seriously lost, which involves action, setting, description, drama and often wet socks. Different scenarios (ocean! blizzard! desert!) get our adrenalin going while we brainstorm survival uses for common backpack items, talk about wildlife encounters and make survival plans.  The students steer the discussion in the fun, rapid-fire "Pick a Card" game, revealing "code-words" for writing topics like research, dialogue, description and detail.

Curriculum links:  Resiliency and personal strength; Using humour, dialogue, vocabulary, detail and editing in storytelling; group brainstorming and respect for the opinions of others; family relationships, communication, and discovering connections with others.

Everyone's a Writer! (grades 2-3)

Do you play soccer or piano or speak another language?  Practice makes you better, right?  Same with writing! We'll do my famous YES OR NO? game to dispel some common misconceptions about writing.  Then we'll play a fun card game to show that story ideas can be found just about anywhere, organization makes writing easier, the 3Ds (description, dialogue and detail) make stories come to life, and editing is not the miserable fun-sucker that kids sometimes think it is. Oh, and it's perfectly normal to laugh if you write something funny. Your reader probably will, too!

Curriculum links:  Using techniques such as outlines, humour, dialogue, vocabulary, detail and editing in storytelling; group brainstorming and problem-solving; sharing and showing respect for others.

Write Like There's No Tomorrow (grades 10-12, adult)

What are you waiting for?  There’s no magical right time to write.  Don't wait for the diploma, the degree or the time:  jump in now.  In this presentation, I encourage students to journal, blurt and write honest, really ugly first drafts.  My first, lightning-quick draft of Lost in the Backyard followed months of thinking about the story, but it wasn't pretty.  I share how that story was then shaped, tugged and polished through useful elements like dialogue, atmosphere and description.  We'll also look at the oh-so-glamorous path to publication, including editing, lots and lots of rejection, and the necessity of hard work, perseverance and a pig-headed belief in your work. 

Curriculum links: Using effective language/symbols to express ideas; the use of setting and character to build coherent storylines; thinking critically about issues such as advertising; life skills (self-reliance, resilience and leadership); building space for creativity in everyday life.

Romp Around: Writing in Multiple Genres (YA-adult)

"Write the story you want to write, then worry about where it fits." This was wonderful, the-sky's-the-limit advice from my first editor.  I took it to heart:  I've written a wide range of stories I wanted to write, fitting them all along the spectrum from picture books to early readers to middle grade to young adult.  I've written short stories and poetry, too, just because it felt right at the time.  In this presentation on writing omnivorously, we look at both the joys (interest! stimulation! freedom!) and challenges (audience, language, organization, publishers, marketing, etc.) of writing in a variety of genres.

A Few Reviews:

Librarians:

"Thanks so much for your fantastic presentation!  Your dynamic enthusiasm for writing is infectious and I'm sure you've inspired many budding authors today (including me!).  Thank you for sharing your books, your insights and your passion!" 

- Sian Vadnais, librarian, Mundare School

"The teachers commented that she was great with all of the kids, and that her presentations were lively and engaging... We appreciated that Alison gave us examples of her ideas for her books and how they led to the production of the stories. Alison is very easy going, approachable and has a great sense of humor; making it a great environment for the kids to relax and ask their questions...A lot of the kids, when asked, thought she was amazing. Everyone was extremely impressed with the presentations and we are so very thankful to Alison for coming out to share her life and stories with us." (Young Alberta Book Society Taleblazers Festival 2016 evaluation by a host librarian)

"Alison was upbeat, vibrant, fun, very approachable and brought a great personal level of interaction and relatability to her presentation. She really got the kids engaged with her "pick a card" strategy, where she had students pick a playing card that had either a funny phrase or a "prize winner" on it.  The phrase related to a funny writing story or strategy that she had used in her writing, and demonstrated to the kiddos that they might use it too... inspiration can come from anywhere! She kept all the kids, even the Jr. Highs and teachers, engaged, smiling, laughing and learning without even knowing it in her wonderful easygoing manner." (Young Alberta Book Society Taleblazers Festival 2016 evaluation by a host librarian) 

“Alison Hughes is excited about her writing and eager to share that enthusiasm with others. A warm and friendly speaker, she engages her audience with fun interactive activities and a relaxed reading style. She also welcomes all questions, which she answers openly, honestly, and with great advice for aspiring writers.”  

-   Jeff Mercer, M.L.I.S (Librarian, South Shore Public Libraries, Nova Scotia)

"We were fortunate to have Alison Hughes visit our school. She presented to different grade groupings and was able to engage each group. She was able to connect with the students even though the groups were large. Teachers were impressed with Alison's presentations. She has ignited a desire to read and students are asking to borrow her books. Always a happy moment for the librarian and teachers. Alison was a pleasure to work with and very flexible. Alison is professional, yet able to connect with the students of all ages. We will definitely considering inviting her back for another author visit."

- Jane Burri Py (Learning Commons Librarian, St. Basil Elementary/Junior High School)

Teachers and Principals:

"Our grade 3 classes enjoyed visiting author, Alison Hughes very much!  She enthusiastically engaged her audience with a fun and interactive activity.  She exuded her love for writng and shared how she gets her inspiration.  Some comments from students..."I enjoyed hearing about her reviews from publishers"..."I liked the question game"..."I liked learning that gerbils were illegal in Austrailia"... I believe the students will look forward to reading her books and be inspired in their own writing!  Thank you Alison for visiting our school!"

- Grade 3 teacher (Mount Pleasant School, Edmonton)

 

"Thank you for coming to York Street P.S. today!  You had such an easy manner with the kids, they so enjoyed you and were buzzing about it for the rest of the day.  All of the teachers commented on what an opportunity it was for so many of our classes to benefit.  I am really enjoying reading Lost in the Backyard with my class, especially all the fruitful discussions we are having, when until this novel, they were so shy to share."

- Anita Hiradhar (Grade 7 teacher, York Street Public School, Ottawa)

“Alison Hughes’ presentation to Grade Four students at Halifax Grammar last month was a pleasure. Alison talked about the characters and events in Poser in such an engaging way that the children were keen to get their hands on a copy right away. Moreover, Alison also responded to the children’s many questions about the writing process, how ideas have come to her over the years and how to get published. A number of our students are very serious about their interest in writing and exposure to a ‘real author’ helps bring the possibilities to life. Thank you, Alison – we’d love to have you back at Grammar whenever you return to the Maritimes.”

-    Linden Gray (Head of Prep, Halifax Grammar, Halifax, Nova Scotia)

 

“I had the privilege to have Alison Hughes, author of the book Poser, come as a guest author to present to my grade 4 class. Alison presented her knowledge of writing in a meaningful way that 9 and 10 year olds would understand. They were very interested to hear her writing strategies as well as how books go through the editing process. A very important concept in grade 4!  I found Alison to be caring and loving with the students. She answered all the questions the kids asked with honest answers. She showed enthusiasm towards writing and how she got her ideas to write stories. When reading to the students, she had them captivated in the story. They wanted to hear more. She had the students engaged in her writing process and in her story she was currently working on. They were motivated to get writing their own adventure stories.”

-    Donna Hayden (Grade 4 teacher, École Père Kenneth Kearns School, Sherwood Park)

 

“Alison was very engaging and comfortable working with the students.  They responded well to her… Alison was not only informative, but warm, funny and attentive to the students. My students loved Alison and greatly enjoyed their time with her.  She was very engaging and really showed that she knows how to interact with students; she talked to them at their level and kept their interest for the entire time that she was in the classroom.  Alison was energetic, enthusiastic and warm; when she read to the class, they were fascinated, not only with her story but also with her presentation.”

-     Donna Ainslie-O’Connor (Grade 3 teacher, Brookwood School, Spruce Grove, Alberta)

Students:

 

“The presentation was fun and interactive. She read us some of her books and they were funny and really interesting and well-written. She talked to us about dialogue and made it fun. At the end, she let us have complete freedom in our questions. It was a totally awesome presentation.”

-    Sarah Rabby (Grade 4 student, École Père Kenneth Kearns School, Sherwood Park)

"I really liked your presentation.  I don't like reading, but I think I am going to love your next book.  I think your other books are fantastic and everyone would like them.  I think you're a great writer and person." (Kaden T., grade 5)

"I liked how nice you were and you inspired me to write a book one day!  Thank you so much for telling us all about writing." (Addison, grade 5)

"I got to listen to your wonderful presentation, and I would like for you to come and present again.  Your books sound like they come from deep down in your head." (Brenden, grade 5)

"My most favorite part of the presentation was when I got to pick a card and how you said gerbils are illegal in Australia.  Who would think of that!  Thank you so much for coming to our school.  So far, you're the best author I have heard at this school!"  (Anna, grade 4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

School and Festival Hosts

So many children have shared their ideas and creativity with me in workshops and presentations!  Thanks to the following for inviting me for recent visits:

  • YMCA Southwestern Ontario Beyond the Bell Program

  • Tecumseh Public School, Chatham, ON

  • Thamesville Area Central School, Thamesville, ON

  • Merlin Area Public School, Merlin, ON

  • Errol Road Public School, Sarnia, ON

  • Sarnia Christian, Sarnia, ON

  • Hanna Memorial School, Sarnia, ON

  • Queen Elizabeth II Public School, Petrolia, ON

  • Mooretown-Courtright Public School, Mooretown, ON

  • Webber Academy, Calgary

  • Richard Secord School, Edmonton

  • St. Theresa School, Sherwood Park

  • Bertha Kennedy School, St. Albert

  • Strathcona Christian Academy Elementary, Sherwood Park

  • A. Blair McPherson, Edmonton

  • Anne Fitzgerald Elementary, Edmonton

  • Fern Hill Academy, Ottawa

  • Ahlul-Bayt Islamic School, Ottawa

  • Queen Mary Street Public School, Ottawa

  • Jonas Samson Junior High School, Meadow Lake, SK

  • Story Avenue, Young Alberta Book Society, Edmonton

  • Sherwood Park Young Authors Conference

  • York Street Public School, Ottawa

  • Rockcliffe Park Public School, Ottawa

  • Silver Birch Awards (Forest of Reading Festival), Toronto

  • Clear Water Academy, Calgary

  • Kalyna Kids Preschool, Edmonton

  • Julia Kiniski School, Edmonton

  • Lamont Elementary School, Lamont

  • The Word on the Street Festival, Toronto

  • Monsignor Fee Otterson School Young Author's Conference, Edmonton

  • Calgary Young Writer's Conference, Calgary

  • Halifax Grammar, Halifax

  • Bluenose Academy, Lunenburg

  • Halifax Public Library, Hackmatack Awards Week, Halifax

  • Brookwood School, Spruce Grove

  • Ecole Pere Kenneth Kearns, Sherwood Park

  • Ecole Parkdale School, Wetaskiwin

  • St. Basil Elementary/Junior High, Calgary

  • Mount Pleasant Elementary, Edmonton

  • Thorhild Public Library, Thorhild

  • Clara Tyner Elementary School, Edmonton

  • Sangudo Community School, Sangudo

  • Mundare School, Mundare