Special Offer: Arrange for a second school to book two or more sessions and get a free audio book: Mortimer: Rat Race to Space.
Writers’ Union of Canada member. Fiction | Nonfiction | STEM | STEAM |K-12 | family audience |professional development | Selection of awards: Crystal Kite for Canada, Green Prize for Sustainable Literature, Skipping Stones (2X), Writer’s Guild of Alberta children’s lit award (2X), and Moonbeam (3X). Shortlisted: Rocky Mountain, Red Cedar, Hackmatack, and others. Recipient of the Martha Weston Grant awarded annually to one worldwide member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).
Virtual visits: $250/one session (up to 50 minutes), $225/each additional same-day session (plus GST).
In-person: $500/two sessions, $750/three, $950/four plus GST and travel expenses to be negotiated. (Can be shared among schools.) Joan is happy to travel! Reach out to see if she already has plans to visit your area.
Joan Marie Galat began her writing career at age 12 when she was hired as a newspaper columnist by an editor who may not have known her age. Now with 25+ books, a bestseller, and translations in seven languages (that she can’t read), Joan delivers lively presentations to get students excited about books and STEM. Her topics include sky science (outer space and astronomy fun!), engineering, animals, the environment, and activism. Nominated for the 2024 Red Cedar, Mortimer: Rat Race to Space is about a lab rat on the International Space Station who collects video evidence (destined for YouTube) to prove his species should be the first to settle on Mars. A versatile and experienced presenter, Joan has traveled across Canada and internationally to promote literacy and STEM. She even spoke at a United Nations event! Joan delivers the message—there’s a book for every child.
STEM-THEMED LITERACY BUILDING PRESENTATIONS
Joan’s focus on STEM and STEAM subjects offers curriculum bonuses that encourage students to explore their world. Audiences find it hard to resist the lure of constellations, exploding stars, black holes, and the myths and legends early peoples and ancient cultures first told to explain the night sky.
Joan makes it easier for students to picture themselves as writers when she shares her story of becoming a paid columnist at age 12. Interest in writing builds when Joan reveals how she “literally” launches her books in rockets! By the end of Joan’s talks, students will appreciate the idea that writing can be fun. They’ll know how to find the North Star and a few constellations, and feel motivated to explore their passions through books.
Kindergarten to Grade 2: Pictures in the Sky
Joan uses science and storytelling to introduce the wonders of the night sky. She shows how to find the North Star and constellations, and leads a game called “Picture Book: Fact or Fiction.” Joan shares the most important point to remember to become a better writer and juggles star-shaped beanbags to reinforce the importance of reading (by explaining she learned to juggle from a book).
Grades 3 to 6: A Rat, A Rocket, and Science
Discover how scientific facts and imagination mix, and what happens when a journal-keeping lab rat starts thinking about living on Mars. We’ll talk about research, misinformation, and correcting mistakes—both in writing and friendships—in this lively and informative session based on Mortimer: Rat Race to Space.
Grades 3 to 6: Explore the Night
Joan uses science and storytelling to introduce the wonders of the night sky. Students discover what happens when stars explode and black holes form, as well as how to find constellations and the North Star. Joan inspires future authors with her story of becoming published at age of 12. She offers writing and editing tips and reinforces literacy by juggling star-shaped beanbags, while making sure kids understand she learned to juggle from reading a nonfiction book.
Grades 3-6: Solve This!
From bubble wrap to bridges, the miracles of engineering are all around you. Find out how engineers dream up new ideas and bring them to life. Discover what happens when things go wrong! Get ready to help tackle some rather unusual problems, and since engineers must record their results, expect writing tips, too. Based on Solve This! Wild and Wacky Challenges for the Genius Engineer in You (National Geographic Kids).
Grades 4 to 12: The Northern Lights and Dark Matters
Early cultures looked up at the same night sky we see today, seeking connections between events on Earth and what occurred overhead. They told stories to explain the northern lights and other night sky phenomena. Discover the science and legends of the lights and why dark skies are important in this STEM-themed presentation based on Dot to Dot in the Sky, Stories of the Aurora and Dark Matters, Nature’s Reaction to Light Pollution.
Grades 6-12: Make Your Mark, Make a Difference
Joan invites students to consider their wishes for the world and how they can spark change. She encourages them to read fact-based books, base opinions on scientific evidence, and master writing skills to better communicate their concerns. Based on issues raised in Joan’s books and her 2024 release—Make Your Mark, Make a Difference—A Kid’s Guide to Standing Up For People, Animals, and the Planet (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster/Beyond Words).
Grades 7 to 9: Password to Publishing
Launched with celestial storytelling, this junior high presentation shares how Joan became a paid writer in grade eight. Using personal stories to show how she built her skills, Joan shows how perseverance benefits anyone pursuing a dream. This session includes tips on writing, revising, and finding writing topics. Hosts may extend presentation benefits by accessing writing resources on Joan’s website.
Grades 10 to 12: Write Your Own Future
Joan discusses communication as a career, noting that most writing in adult life is fact-based. She shares her experience writing in different styles including speechwriting, websites, and radio commercials. Joan delivers the message that good writing is essential in all career fields, particularly with changing technology and competitive environments.
FAMILY LITERACY EVENTS
Dot to Dot in the Sky
Joan introduces the wonders of the night sky using storytelling to share ancient myths, interspersed with astronomy facts. Her enthusiasm for stargazing is contagious and leaves attendees ready to locate constellations and explore the mysteries of the night sky on their own. Dot to Dot in the Sky can be offered as an evening star gazing session.
WRITING AND STORYTELLING WORKSHOPS
K-2: Finding Facts and Telling Stories
Oral storytelling is the first step to story writing. Students discover how to express what they already know, as everyone contributes in this fun group-writing effort.
Grades 3-7: Write Like a Rat
Mortimer, a journal-keeping lab rat on the International Space Station is determined to prove his species is best suited to colonizing Mars. He records the results in his journal, uses a secret code, and makes videos for YouTube. Discover how you too can write like a rat. Based on Mortimer: Rat Race to Space (DCB).
Grades 3-7: Stories in the Stars
If the thought of writing makes your class groan, book this workshop to show how developing a story need not feel like a baffling task. Students enter the room with a blank piece of paper and leave with the first draft of an exciting space-themed story.
Grades 8-12: WordPlay for Teens
Teens explore and grow their abilities through a variety of snappy creative writing activities that show how fun it can be to play with words. Expect creativity warm-ups, idea-triggers, self-editing tips, and time to write the first draft of an unforgettable story.
- Additional topics upon request. If you’d like something different than described here, let Joan know. She is happy to work with you!
In-person: up to 75 students. One location for day, preferably library.
Virtual: up to three classroom logins.
Workshops: one class/session.
In-person: Joan requires a laptop with PowerPoint, external speakers, table to display books, and glass of water. If possible, a remote control is also helpful. Please provide a meal if hosting over lunchtime. If you prefer a no-tech presentation, no problem—just let Joan know in advance.
Virtual: Joan can present using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet, or other platforms you may suggest, and schedule all time zones.
Presentation content/delivery is modified to match the grades present. A flexible speaker, Joan can accommodate most requests, but does recommend these common groupings K-2, 3-6, 7-9, 9-12.
Joan Marie Galat offers query letter and manuscript critiques, freelance editing, and consultations on getting published