Beryl YoungBeryl Young Would Someone Please Answer the Parrot!Follow the ElephantCharlieWishing Star Summer

I enjoy speaking across the country to students as well as teacher/librarians. When talking about the writer's life I include all my books, but talks can be tailored to cover any one book for specific interests, as well as for adult and student groups. All sessions will help teachers use the books to meet curriculum requirements. Teacher's Guides are available as handouts.

My presentations are an hour for students from Kindergarten to Grade 7 (in groups of up to 60). Often I'm invited to visit a school for a day to give two or three presentations to different classes. For larger groups, I have a Power Point presentation with 40 slides of photographs and documents. Sessions #1 and #2 are particularly suitable for large groups. Session #2 requires equipment for a Power Point presentation.

To book a school visit and discuss fees, contact me at

To apply for funding for school visits, visit The Writer's Union
of Canada

General talks about writer's life:

1. Between the Covers: real life into real books

Unlike J. K. Rowling, I can't write about magic and fantasy. The books I write are based on real life. Both fiction and non-fiction, my stories are about ordinary kids who have extraordinary adventures and challenges in their lives.

I talk about the process of writing a book — from the exciting first idea to research, editing, artwork and publication to the satisfaction of bringing real stories to readers.

2. Telling my Father's Story (when he didn't want me to)

I talk about discovering that my father had been a Barnardo's Home Child and how I made the hard decision to write a book about his life, when, like so many Home Children, he felt ashamed of his background.

With a Power Point presentation, I show slides and archival material taken from my book Charlie's Story: a Home Child's Life in Canada. This heart warming story encourages classroom research into personal family histories for teachers as well as students. 2010 was named the Year of the British Home Child.

Talks on individual books:

3. Follow the Elephant: an adventure quest to India

The story of 13 year old Ben taken to India by his grandmother brings the richness of Indian geography and culture to life. I talk about my own life-long passion for India and encourage students to talk about their own experiences as a starting point to write their own stories.

Classroom projects involve discussion of how different faiths view the afterlife, as well exploring the many Hindu gods, including the Indian elephant boy/god, Ganesh.

Indo-Canadian students will welcome the opportunity to relate their own family experiences.

4. Would Someone Please Answer the Parrot!

This book is suitable for students up to Grade 4. I talk about how I met Guapo, a very clever talking African Grey parrot, and if possible bring a parrot with me to the classroom.

Children have fun as I read the story and act out the parrot’s noises. As well, they learn about African Grey Parrots in the wild, where they’re from, what they like to eat and how long-lived they are.

Click here to read a blog posting by a teacher about my presentation to a group of grade 2-4 students.

5. Home Children - a forgotten piece of our Canadian immigration history

My father was one of the 100,000 young British children sent to Canada between 1840 and 1940. Charlie: a Home Child's Life in Canada inspires students to uncover their own family heritage using interview and research techniques.

In line with the Grade 5-7 Social Studies curriculum on immigration and citizenship, student projects contrast how Canadians become citizens, then and now, and what it means to be a Canadian. Debates about the ethics of sending unsupervised young children to Canada will fascinate students. 2010 was named the Year of the British Home Child.

Lesson plans, activity sheets and marking rubrics are available for citizenship week, Canadian history and social geography for Grades 5 - 8.

6. Wishing Star Summer

This book is based on a real life experience of my granddaughter and her family who hosted a child from Belarus for a summer visit. The story is set in Vancouver and shows how the ten-year-old girls must find a way to reach across cultural barriers.

I describe how I used the 1986 nuclear explosion at Chernobyl as a background to write my story and invite students to think of contemporary current events they could use to write their own stories. 2011 will mark the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl explosion which holds the record as the world's biggest nuclear accident. Look for media articles about the anniversary of an event that has had long-term effects on us all.

Mac and Zac were consultants for Follow the Elephant

Beryl visiting a Grade 5 class in Victoria