Touring In: Alberta
Genre: picture books, junior fiction, YA
Ideal Audience Size: 30-200 (smaller groups for workshops and picture book readings, larger groups for media lit (Teaching Kids News) and more general writing presentations.
Maximum Audience Size: 250
Grades: Kindergarten-Grade 9; Adults
Special Equipment: Projector that can be hooked up to Joyce’s laptop (for PowerPoint). Joyce’s computer is a PC (Lenovo ThinkPad) running PowerPoint.
Winner of the 2015 Rainforest of Reading Award (Montserrat)
2013 Ontario Library Association Best Bet
Joyce’s presenting style is highly energetic and interactive in a way that kids love. She is asked back by librarians, time and again, because of her memorable writing workshops, media literacy seminars and readings.
In 2010, she co-founded Teaching Kids News, which uses kid-friendly language and context to help kids understand what is happening in their world. More than 4,000 people use the site every day during the school year.
And for videos of Joyce presenting, resources for teachers, and more, visit: joycegrant.wordpress.com.
Kindergarten: Fun, Dramatic Reading
The children “become” the characters and act out the scenes through body movement and character noises. I use the Gabby series of picture books to set up the drama!
Grades 1 to 3: Jumbled Words!
Volunteers act out scenes or become “jumbled letters” that must be physically re-ordered and made into words that the whole audience can help with.
Grades 4 to 6: Plot, Setting, Character – Go! Workshop
Character, setting and plot are examined and developed in this fast-paced workshop. Children develop their own stories right on the spot, offering up their ideas for interesting characters, exciting plots and magical objects, which are then acted out.
Create a Picture Book! Workshop
A unique, not-to-be-missed workshop. In just one hour, the class will develop an entire picture book! And not just any picture book – one with incredible characters, setting and plot. Teams are assigned double-page spreads to write and illustrate to create the picture book which is later assembled and can even be submitted to the school library. (Maximum one class per workshop.)
Grades 3 to 8: Teaching Kids the News: Media Lit
Based on my popular TeachingKidsNews.com kid-friendly news website, children learn about the current news of the day and come to understand the issues. Discussions involving point-of-view, bias and the basics of reporting help them begin to think critically about the news they see and hear every day.
Grades 9 to 12: Journalism 101 Workshop
Ever wondered what a journalist does, to report the news? We look at headlines, news gathering techniques, journalism writing style (the inverted pyramid), the five Ws and other journalism fundamentals. We examine bias and reporter error. And we create some of our own headlines and stories based on real-life “facts.” Journalism techniques aren’t just for reporters – they help kids write with clarity, and create a logical flow to their writing.
Getting Kids Reading (for Parents and Teachers)
Perfect for Literacy Week! Joyce’s literacy workshop, for teachers and parents, will give you dozens of great ideas to hook kids on reading. Based on her literacy blog, Getting Kids Reading, Joyce brings in tons of games, activities and toys that will get kids reading. And not those boring or “uncool” games and activities, either. We’re talking, big-fun, absorbing, kids-won’t-even-know-they’re-reading games!
(Lorimer Publishing, 2016)
Gabby: Wonder Girl
Illustrated by Jan Dolby
(Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2016)
Gabby: Drama Queen
Illustrated by Jan Dolby
(Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2013)
Illustrated by Jan Dolby
(Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2013)
- Winner of the 2015 Rainforest of Reading Award (Montserrat)
- 2014 Toy Testing Council Recommended Read
- Shortlisted for the 2014 Rainforest of Reading Award for St. Lucia and Grenada
- 2013 Ontario Library Association Best Bet
- 2013 Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Best Books for Kids &Teens selection
Praise for Joyce Grant
“A gifted and engaging presenter, Joyce interacts with her audience in a way that allows them to be participants rather than simply observers. She comes highly recommended!”
—Jennifer King Feheley, Professional British Canadian Storyteller
“The boys and girls were fully involved in this activity, and were enthusiastic… She conducted all of this with dynamism and humour. Our school would welcome the chance to have her return.”
—Adrianna McQuaid, Vice-Principal, Unionville Montessori Private School
“Your visit to the school earlier this year allowed me to achieve something with my students that I would never have been able to do without your support.”
—Pam Farrow, R.H. McGregor Public School
“Joyce Grant would make an excellent presenter for youth on the Book Week tour and I recommend her to you without reservation.”
—Lindsay Aitken, Toronto District School Board
For more testimonials, and videos of Joyce presenting, visit: joycegrant.wordpress.com.
When I was five years old, I wrote a story about a jewel thief. I don’t remember much more than that, but that’s my earliest memory of writing. Later, around grade 4, I asked the Principal if I could be excused from gym class and recess so I could stay in and write. And he let me! I’ll be the first to say that that probably wouldn’t – or shouldn’t – happen today, if only from a fitness standpoint! But it certainly helped me to think of myself as a writer. I used to walk around the classroom, “dictating” to my friend, Ann, who would take notes. The book was “Michael Swervefinch Rides” – in anticipation of its sequel, “Michael Swervefinch Rides Again.” (Neither, alas, were ever completed.) I later found out that my “secretary,” who is still one of my closest friends, was actually writing down whatever the heck she wanted! Sometimes it was my words, but often she would just make stuff up! I should point out that Ann is now an editor.
All my life, writing has been a constant. It was a way of celebrating successes, it was a means of escape when I didn’t like something that was happening in my life, it was often my companion. And it gave me self-esteem. It was my way of saying to myself, “I can do this – here’s something I can do.” It was also my way of connecting with all of the other writers whose books I loved and would get lost in.
In high school, I won several awards for creative writing. The prizes were novels with bookplates in the front of them. I still have them on my bookshelf today, and I often open them and send up a silent thank-you to all of the people who have ever encouraged me as a writer, or helped me to hone my craft.
After high school I got a degree in journalism, and I worked for a number of small daily newspapers. I went into marketing for awhile, because I felt that I needed to experience the world in order to properly report on it–I eventually co-owned a small ad agency. But then I came back to writing full-time. When I was about 30 years old, I sold my house and sports car and moved from Toronto to Lakefield, Ontario, about a block from Margaret Laurence’s old house. That was very deliberate. I wanted to be where ‘the writing’ was. That was a really important move for me, because it allowed me to focus solely on writing and reading. I started a novel, I wrote for a TV production company, I did marketing writing, TV ads, magazine articles, websites, newspaper articles – just about anything that could be written, I wrote!
I met my husband there, and together we moved back to Toronto. After my son was born, I started getting more interested in the science of literacy – why and how kids learn to read. I started a blog called Getting Kids Reading, and I learned that many kids learn to read more quickly when they can touch and feel the letters. That brings me to my first picture book, Gabby. It’s about a girl who drops her book and the letters fall out. Whatever she spells with the letters, comes to life. That story is steeped in the principles of early reading theory: kinesthetic learning and text-to-real-life. That book was followed up by two more, including this year’s Gabby: Wonder Girl, which I’m very excited about because that book also explores girl-power. Each book builds on the literacy lessons of the one before, in a way that’s fun and exciting for the reader so they don’t even realize they’re learning.
Meanwhile, my son became obsessed with baseball. I found myself always at baseball diamonds, and I watched the interactions between many different kinds of players. So it was natural that I would write a baseball novel. Tagged Out, published in 2016 by Lorimer, is set in Christie Pits and it’s about a young baseball team. I hope to follow it up with a sequel soon.
To me, writing is the icing of life – the cream. It’s a special place only you can take yourself, where you can build any world you want, meet any kind of person you want to meet and do anything. It’s hard. I don’t know any writer who says it’s always easy. But the rewards always outweigh the difficulties. Since I was five, writing about a jewel thief, I’ve thought of myself as “a writer,” waiting for the day I could say I was “an author.” And now that I am, I want to encourage kids to be, as well, because I genuinely believe that anyone who loves writing can do it, too.