My school visit in Danville, PA

Reading my book to students

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting an elementary school in Danville, Pennsylvania, and speaking to the third-grade students about my books. I’m well acquainted with the area because my parents are originally from Danville, and I still have many relatives there. In fact, I have two cousins who are third-graders at the school, which made the occasion even more fun.

Liberty Valley Intermediate school has nine third-grade classes, and they were all gathered in the gym to hear me speak (about 200 of them.) I began by talking about my books, and drew pictures on a large tablet. I drew my frog character, then the children gave me suggestions for what to add (fish, birds, butterfly, etc). They came up with lots of great ideas, and I drew as many as I could fit on the page.

Then I offered to read from one of my books. They all voted for Sticky Burr, so I read a few excerpts from the latest book. The students all listened intently, even though the pictures were hard to see at a distance. They asked great questions too.

Finally we did a collaborative story activity, where we all wrote a story together, and I illustrated it as we went along. First I asked the children to suggest an animal that the story could be about. Then I asked where the animal lived, and what could happen to that animal in the story. They had so many good ideas, I wished I could have used them all! I divided up the page into four squares, and drew one scene in each square until we had a complete story.

I told the students that there are countless possibilities when writing a story, and our story could have easily gone in many different directions. That’s one of the great things about writing, that you decide what happens next, and you are only limited by your imagination.

I want to thank all the teachers and the principal at the school for making me so welcome. I had a great time, and I hope my visit inspired some young writers and illustrators!

View of Danville

The bridge over the Susquehanna River, leading into Danville.

Me outside the school

Me outside the school.

Enthusiastic students

An enthusiastic audience!

Drawing a story

Drawing a story.

Teachers at the school

Me with some of the teachers.

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6 thoughts on “My school visit in Danville, PA

  • January 31, 2011 at 6:26 pm


  • February 23, 2011 at 6:28 am

    Wow, John…what a coincidence that you were just in Danville doing this…I live in Lewisburg! I love your work. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I just linked to you in that post…my apologies for not doing it originally!

  • February 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Thanks Jocelyn! I love visiting Pennsylvania, and it was fun to visit with such a creative group of children.

  • April 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Hey John!
    I got Nancy’s forwarded email and have spent a while today looking through your comic and the blog. This is great! I’ve really enjoyed Sticky Burr thus far and look forward to more!
    This school trip looks like a really great way to interact with kids and get them thinking creatively. I hope all’s well; keep it up!

    • April 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      Sorry, website was wrong. Corrected now, if you want to go check it out!

      • May 2, 2011 at 11:37 pm

        Hi Eric, sorry I didn’t see your comment earlier. Thanks for the note, your website looks great!

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