School, Library, and Community Programs

Praise for Terry’s programs ~

“Thank you so much for providing students with such a substantive experience. Your emphasis on human dignity and the power of stories is certain to make a lasting impression on their lives.” Janet Zwick, An Open Book Foundation, Washington, DC

“I began to see the U.S. from the Sudanese mother’s eyes.” Diversity Hiring Coalition of Maine discussion group member

“Like Viola, I am an immigrant, and even after 10 years of living in the U.S. I find myself lost between cultures. I loved finding myself in Viola.”
Mt. Wachusett Community College (MA)  student


I welcome invitations from schools, libraries, and community organizations. Best of all to me are intimate gatherings I’ve been invited to: book clubs and ESL classes, classes of all kinds, and nonprofits who work with refugees.   I present story and writing programs as well as programs exploring the topics of my books such as “Children and War” and “My New Neighbor.” Below are some examples; I also welcome you  tell me about the focus in your community and how my books and talks can best support you.

Examples of School and Library Programs:

A Story of Children, War, and Courage

A Middle School, High School, College or Library program.  Through documentary photos, oral histories, reports of on-the-scene war correspondents, and readings from The Good Braider, Terry takes listeners on the arduous journey of children and their families out of war in South Sudan.   “Children of War” captures the larger picture of contemporary displacement of populations and also offers the story of one Sudanese girl’s profound resilience as she navigates life in her new home, Maine.

Terry’s multi-media approach to sharing these difficult stories is both a celebration of the lives of young people who have grown from their adversity and a tribute to the creative and beautiful individuals who are living right in our midst in Maine.”
– Nancy Watson, Bangor High School Librarian

My New Neighbor

Especially for elementary school kids! This program features Luis Paints the World, a story about a Dominican-American family or Joseph’s Big Ride, about a South Sudanese boy’s view of his new home (It’s okay here, he thinks. His focus is on how to get a ride on a bike.) I present the story with images, include movement, sometimes art; I invite students to be part of a reader’s theatre. We talk about new Americans from around the world who are our neighbors.

Writing to Understand: Research, Listening, and Building Bridges

A discussion with readers and writers about issues around writing The Good Braider and Either the Beginning or the End of the World.   We’ll look at practices around  research, writing from oral history, and writing a novel in verse. This is a session wide open to readers’ responses, questions, and practice in developing the art of listening.

Finding the Dove: A Writing Workshop

Using poems and illustrated books as models for a memory story or a story to tell to a child, participants play with language and ideas.  Students build vocabulary and fluency as they take steps in being the writers of their own books.   Includes a packet of handouts with writing prompts, writing tips, and a reading list of “Picture Books for Writers of all Ages.” This workshop is  suitable for all writers, including English language learners.

The Elephant’s Trunk:  A trip around the world with cross-cultural books

In this participatory session, all are invited to travel the world with novels in verse.  The workshop includes short writing prompts, performing reader’s theater, music, and reading the language closely. Handouts include a reading list of books representing the cultural mosaic of the U.S.


“My students felt Terry’s visit was one of the highlights of the course and that her presentation on the good braider gave depth and honesty and reality to the reading that they had been doing.”
– Cathy Eaton, English Professor, New Hampshire Technical Institute, Concord’s Community College

“Terry’s never-ending energy, patience, creativity and apparent love for passing on the gift of reading were clearly evident in her presentations. The knowledge she gave our girls will stay with them forever and hopefully will be passed on to their children, and continue for generations to come.”
– Director, YWCA Teen Living Program, Lawrence, MA

Terry didn’t have an agenda.  She told the truth.”
– Pam Chodash, journalism teacher, Oxford Hills High School, South Paris, Maine

Conference Talks and Keynotes

My conference presentations on diverse books and the literature of immigrants and refugees arise from the themes of my books and my projects with new American children and families. I’ve been a speaker for American Library Association, International Board of Books for Young People, National Council for the Social Sciences conferences, and writing conferences among others.

Mosaic – Our Characters in the World

“We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic,” Jimmy Carter writes of the U.S.  This is a talk about writing with authenticity across our cultural borders and honoring the cultural mosaic of the U.S.  Read the program description and find handouts in PDF form.

Illuminations: Fiction to Help Students Understand War
Braiding Lives Through Children’s and Young Adult Literature
Threads that Hold a Spine, on reading and writing about children and war

Blog posts about some of my presentations

The Open Book Foundation in Washington, D.C.

My first school visit with Luis Paints the World

Ubuntu in Maine

Funding Author Programs:

Writer and educator Alexis O’Neil has good advice on identifying funding for author programs. Her post is here.

I also present programs in New Hampshire and Vermont through CLiF – Children’s Literacy Foundation, and am a New Hampshire Arts Council Arts-in-Education roster presenter. Both of these groups offer grants to bring writers into the classroom. New Hampshire Humanities has a Quick Grant program that, among many benefits, supports organizations to bring speakers.

Other funding opportunities include partnering with local organizations or business that champion life-long education and family literacy.