Tips on Developing Book Presentations

Bird nest craft for Cradle in the Wild presentation

By Linda Wilson  @LinWilsonauthor

Think of venues in your town where you can present hands-on programs showcasing your self-published books. Possibilities include: Lunch & Learn programs at local churches, libraries, bookstores, coffee houses, pre-school get-togethers, local art organizations, and public schools. Gear your program(s) to children in your market age group. The key is to include parents, grandparents, and caregivers so that you can display your books for purchase. Interest a teacher, librarian, or principal to purchase a supply of books for a classroom or for children in the school before an author visit. 

Develop your Program

Two programs that I’ve developed for my picture books, A Packrat’s Holiday: Thistletoe’s Gift and Cradle in the Wild, have been well received. Now that I’ve dipped a toe in the water, I plan to develop programs for my other books in coming months.

A Packrat’s Holiday: Thistletoe’s Gift

A Packrat’s Holiday: Thistletoe’s Gift is about a packrat whose cupboards are bare during the holidays. Thistletoe wants to find food and decorations for his Mama to have a “right good [holiday] supper.” Here is the program I developed for this book.

  • Collect materials: Before the presentation, I collected natural materials that packrats use to build their nests, such as dried leaves and grasses, fluff from various plants, pop tops and pieces of shiny tin foil, and small twigs and sticks. I wrapped a ribbon, string, or elastic band around some of these materials; others I collected in plastic bags. I numbered each item, enough for a 30-student class, and placed them in a basket.
  • Introduce a treasure hunt: I hid the natural materials around the room. When the children enter, they are directed to sit down. I get them excited about going on a treasure hunt. Before the hunt starts, I show them a picture of a packrat and ask them to identify it. They inevitably think it is a picture of a mouse. Though packrats do look a lot like mice, we can then discuss how packrats differ.
  • Familiarize children with packrats: We discuss that packrats are in the animal family of rodents. We name other rodents, including beavers, a fact I learned while working on this project. We discuss where packrats live, what they eat, and the fun fact about packrats’ traits—how a packrat will pick up a shiny object while searching for food, then if he comes across a more interesting shiny object, he’ll drop the first one, pick up the more interesting one, and take it back to his den.
  • If the attention span of the group is a challenge, I then hand out coloring pages to color while listening to the story.
  • Tell the story: I have found that telling the story while showing the illustrations works better than reading it with groups of more than five children. This takes some practice beforehand, but it’s worth it.
  • After the story: The children can color or take the coloring page(s) home with them.
  • Book display: The main display is of the story book and a coloring book that an artist made to accompany my packrat book. My other books are displayed off to the side.

Cradle in the Wild 

Cradle in the Wild is about two sisters who discover parts of a bird’s nest on their porch, and their desire to help the birds make a new nest with these materials, and some additional materials that they have added from their mother’s sewing basket.

  • Introduce the book: Shared with students and parents/grandparents/caregivers is a collection of ten bird’s nests that I’ve kept over the years. Participants are encouraged to hold the nests, pass them around, learn the materials birds use to build their nests; and especially they are encouraged to feel the soft, downy material the parent birds use for the inside of the nests to protect their eggs and hatchlings.
  • Show pictures: Pictures from a book I discovered, Bird Watch Book for Kids: Introduction to Bird Watching, Colorful Guide to 25 Popular Backyard Birds, and Journal Pages, Dylanna Press, 2022 (Amazon) are large and colorful. The book explains what to take while bird watching, such as water and sunscreen, and the book itself. The book has pictures and explanations of popular birds, and a journal in the back for the children to keep track of the birds they observe. 
  • Suggest an adult bird guidebook: The Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Birds is an excellent choice for parents to keep on hand for the family to identify birds their children see in their daily lives.
  • Pass around examples of birdseed: Birdseed in plastic bags can be passed around, followed by a discussion on how bird seed can be placed in an outdoor bird feeder.
  • Suggest apps for phones: Apps such as Bird Sounds and Merlin Bird ID, The Cornell Lab, can be loaded onto the family's phones to hear bird calls.
  • Tell the story: I tell the story from the Cradle book while showing the illustrations from the book.
  • After the story: Children can color a page from a book like Birds Coloring Book, Las Vegas, NV, Purply Publication, 2023 (Amazon), or take the page home. Beforehand, I assembled plastic bags containing materials and directions for the children to make their own bird’s nest. I hand the plastic bags out for the children to make their own bird's nest at home (see photo above).
  • Book display.

Why Develop Local Programs?

One of the things I learned while developing these programs is that simply reading my stories at preschools, schools, or elsewhere, does not include the adults who buy books. Sure, I can hand out book markers and cards with my website and Amazon web page information on them, but have gotten very few responses and have made very few sales by doing this. First, see if you can get librarians, coffeehouse owners, etc. excited about you and your books and program. Presenting a program needs to be a joint effort.

       Selling and advertising online? As a self-published author, I have not built a strong online presence to make sales that way. So, by developing these programs and reaching out to my local community, I hope not only to continue to make book sales, but also to enjoy meeting my readers in person. This approach has brought the reward I’ve been seeking. I hope you will find your reward in this approach, too.

Display at a book fair
in my hometown,
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Linda Wilson writes stories for young children. Visit   Linda at Click the links for free coloring pages and a puppet show starring Thistletoe Q. Packrat. While you’re there, get all the latest news by signing up for Linda’s newsletter. 

 Find Linda’s books at  Amazon Author Page.

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Terry Whalin said...


What a creative list of possibilities to make presentations and sell books. First, thank you for being a role model for us in this effort then taking those experiences and pouring them into this article for others.


author of Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success (Revised Edition) [Follow the Link for a FREE copy]

Suzanne Lieurance said...

Hey, Linda,

Great ideas!

I'll be sharing this in The Morning Nudge next week because so many of my clients and children's writers on my mailing list ask me what they can do to make presentations about their books fun for kids.

Thanks so much.


Karen Cioffi said...

Linda, these are great ideas for kids' author presentations. You're so creative!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

This is super impressive, Linda. I have my thinking cap on for ways to adapt them for adult fiction, memoirs etc. I will be retweeting this like crazy. Please feel free to tag me @frugalbookpromo too so I can just retweet.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Linda Wilson said...

Thank you everyone. I hope my post does help. I've been real bad about tweeting, but I will do as you say, Carolyn.

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