My school programs are tailored to the age of the students, the needs of the teacher, and the writing topics studied in each class. The presentations are highly interactive and have a strong visual component.
If you wish to arrange a visit to your school, library, or gathering, please contact Sarah Lamstein. Fees are negotiable depending on the length and location of the visit. Book signings may help defray costs.
These guides include discussion questions and projects appropriate for classrooms, literature circles, and book clubs. They have been prepared by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, a reading specialist and award-winning children’s author.
WRITING – “A Writer’s Journey”
All of my books, grades K-5
I share with students what led me to become a writer and how each of my books was born. I discuss my writing process, focusing on the many revisions and on the strategies aimed at keeping the reader engaged.
The children – kindergartners to fifth graders – were held rapt by Sarah’s presentation, interested in the variety of her books and how each came to be. A program with broad appeal.
– Audrey Cohan, Professor of Education, Molloy College, Rockville Center, NY
VALUES – “Let’s Talk About Kindness”
I Like Your Buttons!, grades K-2
We discuss the various acts of kindness shown in I Like Your Buttons! The students then participate in activities that reflect the book’s theme. A puppet encourages them in their thoughtful acts. I share with the students my inspiration for the book and how the writing and illustrations evolved.
What impressed me most was Sarah’s interaction with the small patrons, drawing them out in conversation. Not everyone has the gift of communicating with the young.
– Nancy Bonne, Children’s Librarian, Beverly Public Library, Beverly, MA
THE NATURAL WORLD – “Helping Critters”
Big Night for Salamanders, grades K-5
Through slides, videos, and discussion, I introduce students to amphibians in general and spotted salamanders in particular, their life cycle and habitat. We focus on the salamanders’ Big Night migration to a vernal pool, where they mate and lay their eggs. I share with the students my excitement in starting the book, as well as my efforts to create not only a suspenseful story, but also one that is scientifically accurate.
What I loved was that she had kids from kindergarten through 6th grade and managed to engage all of them.
– Elizabeth Bluemle, Flying Pig Bookstore and Publisher’s Weekly blog, Shelburne, VT
HISTORICAL FICTION – “Changing Times”
Hunger Moon, grades 5-7
My middle grade novel is set in the 1950’s, a time when many developmental disabilities were not as yet diagnosed. As a result, the developmentally disabled of earlier times were not fully understood and at times abused, labeled dumb or bad. Such is the case with the narrator’s brother. Besides different attitudes, the students and I consider other components of historical fiction — dress, speech, entertainment — discovering what a writer does to recreate a time period.
Ms. Lamstein, a former librarian who knows what kids read and think, captivated a group of 5th graders as she escorted them throughout her process of writing and publishing Hunger Moon. Her visit was the highlight of our writing unit for the year.
– Scott Ford, 5th grade teacher, Lower School, Milton Academy, Milton, MA
FOLKTALES – “Worldwide Family”
From the Mango Tree and Other Folktales of Nepal, grades 3-5
I share with students my inspiration for compiling this collection of folktales from a far-off, Himalayan land. We discuss the various types of folktales, e.g. cautionary, hero, pourquoi, nonsense, and the common themes and characters found in tales throughout the world. We focus on the Nepali version of the Cinderella story and also discover the many cultures and countries that tell the same tale. Students may come to an appreciation of our connection to people throughout the world, our worldwide family.
Excellent! Thank you!!
– Virginia Ekblom, 5th grade teacher, Major Edwards Elementary School, West Boylston, MA
JEWISH HOLIDAYS (The two programs below may be combined.)
SHABBAT – “A Day for Family”
Annie’s Shabbat, grades K-2
I share with students how this book arose from my childhood experience of Shabbat. I tell them of my decision to include stories of Shabbat both from the Bible and Jewish history, along with Annie’s story of her family’s celebration. We also discuss the revisions of both the text and the illustrations.
You fully engaged our children and their parents and were a great addition to our Shabbat curriculum.
– Marilyn Stern, family educator, Temple Isaiah, Lexington, MA
CHANUKAH – “Light the Lights!”
Letter on the Wind, grades K-4
I show students how this Tunisian folktale for Passover was retold and transformed into a tale for Chanukah. We discuss the similarity between the book’s main character Hayim and Mattathias, the father of the Maccabees. After we learn of Hayim’s “stolen” menorah, the students view slides of menorahs from different times and places, housed in New York’s Jewish Museum, and discover what they tell of Jewish life and history.
Original, fun, heart-warming. A delightful way for both children and parents to celebrate a favorite holiday. We all loved it!
– Roslyn Vanderbilt, Librarian, The Jewish Center, Princeton, NJ