School Visits, Conferences, and Motivational Speaking

Writing can be lonely. This is why I love getting out in the world and meeting kids, teachers, librarians, and groups of business creatives!

But—maybe because I spend most of my working time alone—speaking is also exhausting. So I limit myself to about 20 speaking events a year. This has me “on the road” about a week of each month, which is just the right amount for me. (Please see my note below about Skype/Zoom options!)

If you can book a year in advance, that will be ideal—but don’t hesitate to contact me with short notice for an event, just in case we can make it work. (If we can’t, I can help connect you with one of my writer/speaker friends.) You’ll find my most popular workshops described below, but we can come up with something new for your group, too!

Contact Me

Please contact me at I’d love to hear from you if you have questions about my books, my speaking events, or even your own path as a writer. I receive about 500 emails a day, though—so you might not hear from me on the same day. Usually I’m able to answer emails within 2 or 3 days, though—so if you send me a note and don’t hear back, just send another!

To save you some time and wondering, here are the most frequently asked questions:

How much do you charge for a school visit or conference?

Depending on the time of year and the nature of the event, I can be flexible—but generally speaking, my fees are $2000/day (local; less than 2 hours of driving); $2500/day (2-4 hours of driving); and $3000/day plus travel (if overnight travel is required).

Do you do Skype/Zoom visits?

Yes—and I love to do them! My fee is $250 for a 45-minute session held during my usual working hours (9am – 6pm EST), and $500 for a 45-minute session held at other times during the day or night. For example: if your school is in Asia, it might be very late here in Princeton, NJ during your school day, and if your school is in the Middle East, it will be very early here during your school day—but that is not a problem. If you’re interested, I’m sure that we can find a time that works for everyone.

Can you be my mentor?

I wish I had enough time to be a mentor to all the writers who have asked me to help them. I had a terrific mentor, the simultaneously stern and generous Myra Cohn Livingston. She even sold my first book for me, to her longtime editor Margaret K. McElderry. One difference between Myra (when I met her) and me (in my current life) is that I travel at least one week per month. Send me an email with your questions and let’s go from there—I’d love to hear from you.

A Typical School Visit Schedule

When I visit a school, the day’s schedule usually resembles one of these options.

Option 1 (in an auditorium, cafeteria, or gym)
30 min. assembly for grades K-2
45 min. assembly for grades 3-5
45 min. writing workshop for grade 4
45 min. writing workshop for grade 5

Option 2 (in the library)
30 min. mini-assembly for K-1
30 min. mini-assembly for grades 2-3
1 hour hybrid assembly/writing workshop for grade 4
1 hour hybrid assembly/writing workshop for grade 5

In my assemblies and mini-assemblies I use my Poetry Suitcase full of props to share poems on a wide variety of topics, such as:
—finding inspiration in family stories
—writing about everyday life
—dealing with rejection and failure

Writing Workshops
My favorite workshop for students is a metaphor/simile gift poem workshop that I call “My Mother Is a [BLANK]” (see below). Every student in my writing workshop will leave with a first draft of a poem plus an understanding of:
—rhyme, repetition, and rhythm
—the revision process (blending multiple drafts)
—nontraditional ways to publish

The hybrid assembly/writing workshop format blends a 25-minute assembly with a 25-minute writing workshop (with transition time in the middle).

"Creative Nudge" Workshops

Need a creative nudge? Here are some of the workshops that I offer for students, teachers, librarians, marketing professionals, designers, writers, and anyone in need of inspiration.

Get Poetic.
What kind of text pulls us in? How can we explain the popularity of “Got Milk?” or “Just Do It”?
Poetry is like shouting. When you have something important to shout, you want it to be short.
In this workshop, we’ll look at a examples of corporate text—from your real to-do pile, if you’d like—and try to make them more poetic.

Developing the Author Within
Poet Janet Wong is the author of more than two dozen books for children and teens. She has presented at the White House and been featured on the Oprah Winfrey show. Wong will tell the story of her dramatic career change from lawyer to children’s author and talk about various paths to publication (with practical and easy tips on both traditional publishing and self-publishing). Aspiring writers will value Janet Wong’s step-by-step explanation of the publishing process and concrete examples of how to fit writing into your life—whether you are eight years old or eighty.

Just Do It: Be a Better Writer
Hey, Kids! If you want to be a star basketball player, you know you need to dribble the ball constantly, shooting hoops in the driveway and playing games as often as you can. Writing is the same way. If you want to become a star writer, you need to put some time in—EVERY single day. Children’s author Janet Wong will inspire you to do just that, with quick and easy tips that will make writing fun.

My Mother Is a [BLANK]
Maybe your mother is a flower. What kind? A sturdy sunflower? A simple daisy? An expensive orchid?
Maybe your aunt is sweet, like candy. A tough red rope? A cool peppermint? A nutty Hershey’s bar with almonds?
My metaphor/simile gift poem workshop is my most popular writing workshop. It gives participants an easy writing workout with results that can be shared that same day with the people you love.

Writing Books: The Neighborhood Lemonade Stand of the 21st Century
Get a bunch of kids together—maybe the Young Authors Club at your school. Have them write 100 poems, make 100 drawings, choose, edit, arrange, upload to CreateSpace, and—presto!—you have a fundraiser for your favorite cause! Raise money for an animal charity, your school, disaster relief, or a pizza party. And have fun learning about publishing at the same time!

Share This with Your Decision Makers!

I understand that choosing a speaker for an event is usually a committee decision. One easy way for you to suggest me as a speaker is to share these two things: this printable info sheet and a summary of the “My Mother Is a [BLANK]” writing exercise that I usually do with students. You can send a link to this page or print and share in person. Good luck!