Grasonville Elementary School Author Reading, Grasonville, MD – February 21, 2023
As part of Grasonville Elementary School’s African-American History Month celebration, I was asked by Reading Specialist Kathy Barletta, to read Jamal and Me to the first graders. They were an attentive and delightful audience and we enjoyed talking about Jamal and all of his challenges. A big thank you to Kathy Barletta and the first grade staff for welcoming me so warmly into your school.
“We were so delighted to have Dr. Franks-Randall visit Grasonville Elementary School again and read to our first graders for African American History Month. The students were so intent as they listened to the story Jamal and Me. Dr. Franks-Randall answered lots of questions about why she created the characters the way she did in this story. And it was wonderful for the students to have the author explain her reasons. Our visits with Dr. Franks-Randall are so enjoyable and her books are so relatable to the students. We look forward to her next visit.”
Kathy Barletta, Reading Specialist, Grasonville Elementary School
“Jamal and Me” is engaging and sheds light on so many relatable topics that are going on in the lives of young children. They connect with it and can see themselves within Jamal and how to make his success their own too.”
Rachel Seward, First Grade Teacher, Grasonville Elementary School
Pace University “Virtual Author Visit with Emergent and Early Literacy Students” – October 12, 2022
On October 12th I made my third annual author visit with Pace University undergraduate students, who attend Pace University’s School of Education. During the first session, I spoke with Dr. Elizabeth Smith, whose students are housed at the Pleasantville Campus, and Professor Sharon Medow, whose students attend classes at the Manhattan site. The session that followed was attended by Dr. Smith’s second section of students at the Pleasantville campus. The students are currently just beginning their journey as pre-service teachers and are in classrooms once per week as part of their practicum experience.
The session focused on all three of my books and I answered questions posed by the two professors and a number of students. The question and answer format was free-flowing and felt more like a conversation than a presentation.
Below are some quotes from some of the reflections the students wrote after my visit. The students wrote such insightful reflections, that it was a challenge to choose quotes that expressed the essence of their thoughts.
“When talking to us she told us her stories with students of all levels enjoying reading and ways we can implement some of her ideas in our classrooms in the future. As aspiring teachers, we are going to spend a lot of our time reading books to our students. It’s important to have books with meaningful messages and ones that students can relate to.” K.S., Pace University Student
“Carol Franks-Randall has inspired me and taught me how to not only help students connect and form relationships with each other, but also make connections and relate to my own students through my own values and who I am. I also now look at children’s books with a different perspective and see how important they really are in schools. One day I would love to maybe publish a children’s book based of all of my favorite childhood books from when I was younger.” A.P., Pace University Student
“Something Dr. Franks-Randall taught me today was that there needs to be chemistry in a classroom and students should have a connection in some way in the classroom. She said something she learned was to make sure you find things that your students like so you can relate in some way in the classroom environment. Most of what she said can be used both in our classroom environment as well writing children’s books. Connecting with your students, giving deeper meanings through text and overall the love for giving back whether that is in the classroom or through picture books.” G.T., Pace University Student
“As a teacher, Dr. Randall knows the power behind read alouds and all the amazing ways you can connect with children, so she used that knowledge to fuel her writing, as she wrote stories that she believed students would love.” B., Pace University Student
“Dr. Franks-Randall’s first book was Jamal and Me. This story was about a boy she experienced who was having a hard time fitting in as a new student who came from NYC and now was living in the suburbs. She was Dr. Toughlove in the story who was the principal that wouldn’t give up on him and wanted him to be successful. This story can be a great book to read to my class in the future on the first day of school, so they do not feel alone.” I.L., Pace University Student
“When I thought about children’s books, I only saw the surface level of meaning: they’re fun to read, the drawings create imagery, reading is multi-sensory. However, what I never thought about was the deeper meaning, much of what Randall touched upon in our conversation and what I wrote about in this entire summary. It taught me that teachers cannot look at only the surface level and expect there to be improvement among their students, rather, teachers need to dig deep and think about how we can foster improvement among our students.” R.B., Pace University Student
“You never know how powerful and touching a book can really be,” said Dr. Franks-Randall, during her visit. Dr. Franks-Randall concluded with the notion that we think about ourselves as a person and note what we bring to the table because it is our love and passions that can have the biggest impact on the students’ love and passions for things.” S.N., Pace University Student
I want to thank Dr. Smith and Professor Medow for sharing their students with me, and allowing me to share my journey as an educator and children’s book author. I enjoyed it immensely!
Pace University “Virtual Author Visit with Early Childhood Education Students” – October 7, 2021
On October 7th I had the pleasure of participating in a “Virtual Author Visit” with a class of undergraduate students who attend Pace University’s School of Education. The class is taught by Dr. Elizabeth Smith, who is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Pace. The students are currently engaged in field work in elementary schools and pre-school facilities. The session focused on my first book, Jamal and Me, but my other two books were folded into the discussion as well. A link to a post about my visit can be found here.
Prior to the session, the students had read Jamal and Me and had specific questions about the book. A few of them included: Why did I write Jamal and Me? Was there a real Jamal? What strategies do you have for follow-up classroom activities? What strategies do you have for helping students make friends? During the ninety-minute session I answered these questions and many more.
Reactions to the visit:
“We were fortunate that in October Carol could visit the early childhood education class that I teach. She shared her books’ themes and had a wonderful dialogue with the students about her experiences as a teacher and administrator, particularly the impact of teacher (or principal) words and actions on a child’s life as depicted in Jamal and Me.
The students recognized that Carol’s book themes of kindness, empathy, collaboration and friendship can be shared in their classrooms to promote teaching the whole child, to nurture the idea that children can work together to make things better. Seeing the strengths in each young child and letting them shine through touches on the goals of the early childhood course and the values we want to instill in these future educators.
When Carol visits she always leaves the students wanting to talk with her more. She had conversations about how to use her books in the classroom, how to approach the issues of bullying and “the new kid” fitting in. Carol also shared her journey from educator to children’s writer and many of the students in the class could envision themselves writing a children’s book one day.
We can’t wait for Carol to visit again!”
Dr. Elizabeth Smith, Clinical Assistant Professor, Pace University School of Education
“I believe that learning about Randall’s writing process really aligns with the learning goals of this course. This truly is vital as future educators because we are no longer just the readers. We need to be able to ask our students questions about what they read. Not only ask them about main ideas, but really make them think about why the author wrote this book, or why certain characters acted the way they did in the book. I feel that Randall’s idea of reflecting her peers in her books is a great idea that I would truly appreciate as an aspiring teacher. Reading is something that students are able to enjoy in the classroom while being able to connect it to the real world. I want my students to be able to go to our class library and find books that reflect themselves, their peers, their family, and situations that happen in everyday life. When it comes to the book Jamal and Me, I would hope that when reading this story to my students, they would be empathetic to anyone that was like Jamal, regardless of his unacceptable behavior. This also allows for me as the teacher to understand how to deal with student’s that have trouble at school, and that the principal’s office is not only for students who misbehave.”
A.R., Pace University Student
“One thing that touched me during Dr. Franks-Randall’s visit was when she said, “not all kids fall under special education, but still need some extra guidance” because I see this often with the children in my fieldwork class. One student in my class is extremely similar to Jamal which is why it upset me when Dr. Franks-Randall said, “black boys are suspended at a higher rate.” I believe that all students have potential and just need a teacher like Dr. Franks Randall to take them under their wing and help them along the way.
I value the time Dr. Franks-Randall spent with us because it was powerful to see and understand the steps behind writing a children’s book. Knowing the writing process makes me love and appreciate the book much more. Dr. Franks-Randall’s talk connects to my aspirations as a future early childhood educator because I would love to implement her books in my classroom as well as books she knows and loves.”
J.W., Pace University Student
“I really enjoyed listening to the guest author we had in class, Carol Franks-Randall. She gave such great ideas for what to do with the book after reading it to your class. My favorite one was when she said to use the character as a way to behavior check your students. It was something I never thought of doing and it is such a great way to get students to change their behavior. One last thing I learned was her process for writing a book. I have always wanted to write a book and to hear her speak about how she thinks about a book and then creates it, was wonderful. Carol Franks-Randall provided great ideas which I will definitely think about with every read aloud book I do.”
J.R., Pace University Student
“Dr. Franks-Randall’s Jamal and Me, Talking Buddies, and Playground Heroes each discuss the themes of empathy, friendship, and collaboration. Jamal and Me emphasizes empathy in Jamal’s differences in behavior, friendship in him learning to interact with his classmates and with Dr. Toughlove, and collaboration between Dr. Toughlove and Ms. Iceburg. Talking Buddies and Playground Heroes both also follow these themes and teach important concepts of social emotional literacy.”
“Our discussion with Dr. Franks-Randall further reinforced the importance of children’s literature and the impact it can have on all classrooms, schools, and even entire communities. Books like Jamal and Me can act as a mirror, window, or sliding door, reflecting, teaching, or making a change in the mentalities of children. Learning about the importance of children’s literature and the book wiring process inspired me to want to write a children’s book myself someday. I hope to create a story as beautiful and as meaningful as Dr. Franks-Randall’s Jamal and Me.”
S.S., Pace University Student
Pace University “Virtual Author Visit” – September 24, 2020
On September 24th, I had the pleasure of participating in a “Virtual Author Visit” sponsored by the Pace University School of Education. Over 60 students and faculty members attended via Zoom.
The conversation was moderated by Dr. Elizabeth Smith, and Dr. Francine Falk-Ross, who are both Professors at Pace University’s School of Education.
During the course of the hour – long visit, I answered questions about why I wrote my three books, the power of story telling as it relates to children’s literature and teaching, children’s book authors who have influenced my work, my school visit experiences, and much more. I also responded to questions posed by the audience, many of whom were undergraduate Pace School of Education students.
I want to thank Dr. Smith for initiating this event, Dr. Falk-Ross for enthusiastically participating, and Desiree Narciso, who handled behind the scenes technical assistance.
Reactions to the visit:
“The themes in Dr. Franks-Randall’s books, including kindness, social justice and anti-bullying, are all valued in an elementary classroom. During her author visit to Pace’s School of Education, she suggested ways that our future educators could incorporate these themes into their own teaching. She talked about her own journey as a storyteller and lover of children’s literature. Carol left the future teachers feeling empowered to embrace personal narratives as a way to connect to young students and create a more kind and empathetic classroom community. Thank you for sharing your talents and wisdom with us!”
Dr. Elizabeth Smith, Clinical Assistant Professor, Pace University School of Education
“Something I liked was that Dr. Franks-Randall throws in a few big word into her books because they are powerful. Kids may not always be able to read them, or understand them, but they are learning and can ask questions. This is building their vocabulary and building their understanding. They learn to make sense of these words and ask questions which makes them even smarter. Another thing about the author’s writing process is to always have a beginning, middle and end. She never wants to leave her audience hanging, she wants to give them what they came for. She encourages a plot for her books and this provides them with structure. Lastly, she thinks telling students your own personal narrative is an amazing teaching tool. She was talking about how things in your life matter and writing about them is very important. She really encourages telling students to have them reflect upon their own because their writing will thrive like hers. I really enjoyed Dr. Franks-Randall sharing her stories and her experiences with us. I think this adds to our own learning goals because we got advice and first-hand perspective from a real author that has been through what we are going through and the process of learning to teach and teaching to learn.” A.N., Pace University Student
“Dr. Franks Randall inspired me as a future educator because of the activity ideas she was giving for her books. She explained that for one of the books, children get into groups of 2 or 3 and create a poster to persuade people to read the book. This causes kids to be engaged in the reading and also take matters into their own hands of creativity. Also, another activity she created was that the kids act out parts of the book and they get to play the characters. Both of these lessons showed me how many ideas there are to do for books and that the possibilities are endless. All of her activities were hands on learning based on the book that will keep students engaged and motivated.” R.S., Pace University Student
“Overall, the author visit was very insightful. Dr. Franks-Randall showed me some great writing activities to do with students and how to get them to be more involved with their reading. I also learned how powerful that children’s literature can be and how it can persuade a student’s decisions. Her talk connected with my aspirations as a future teacher because I want my students to read diverse books and have meaningful conversations about them. I also want my students to be engaged with the activities that go along with each story. When listening I began to wonder how I could use her books within the classroom and how I could tie them into a lesson. Also, I was reflecting on all the things that need to get done within the school year so when she said that as teachers, we need to pick books that have a wide variety to them to maximize the short amount of time there is for reading within the school day. The visit with Dr. Franks-Randall really got me thinking about incorporating her books into my future classroom and using them for a variety of different lessons.” V.B., Pace University Student
“Carol Franks-Randall started talking about her illustrator and what I found so shocking
was that she never met her. They do everything virtually and through email or dropbox. I think
hearing her story about taking risks is so important because it is so easy to get wrapped up in
everyday life and it is easy to be so scared to do something that you end up not doing something that could have been beneficial for you. She also spoke about how the process worked with her illustrator and how the cover of the book is essential because it is the first thing that you see. If you see a book and are not interested in the cover then you most likely will not go out of your way to read it. When you go into early childhood or childhood classes it is important to see books and lots of them. She wanted to make sure that the cover stood out enough that children would want to take it off the shelves which I admire. I am so glad that I went on the zoom call and listened to this wonderful woman.” T.A., Pace University Student
Grasonville Elementary School Author Reading, Grasonville, MD – February 24, 2020
On February 24th I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon at Grasonville Elementary School reading Talking Buddies aloud. I began by sharing this story with the 4th graders as part of their celebration of African-American month. The students were attentive, enthusiastic and insightful. I then went to Rachel Seward’s first grade classroom to read Talking Buddies. We have a longstanding relationship which was fostered by my dear friend Merle Rockwell, who was serving as a Character Coach in Ms. Seward’s classroom. She introduced me to Rachel and we have fostered a relationship based on our shared love for children’s literature. I had a wonderful time with these first graders and learned that three of the students in the class were born in a different country and could relate directly to the characters in the story. Their presence and insightful comments made the visit very meaningful.
“The time that my kiddos and I get to share with Dr. Carol and her stories is invaluable and always so enjoyable. As a first grade teacher, her stories help to fill my classroom library with flexible children’s literature that addresses so many important topics for my students. I always find myself able to use them in a variety of lessons all throughout the year.”
Rachel Seward, First Grade Teacher, Grasonville Elementary School
“Once again our school was fortunate to have Dr. Carol Franks-Randall share her newest story Talking Buddies. The students could relate to this story because they have friends who are learning English in their classes. Dr. Franks-Randall not only read her story to us, but also was able to engage the students in a conversation about the making of the book. This delighted the students to learn from a real author how the story goes through many steps before becoming published. We look forward to have Dr. Franks-Randall join us again next year!”
Kathy Barletta, Reading Specialist, Grasonville Elementary School
I want to thank Kathy Barletta, Reading Specialist at Grasonville Elementary School for inviting me to read, and Rachel Seward for graciously welcoming me into her classroom.
John Tyler Elementary School Author Visit, Washington, DC – November 18 and 20, 2019
I had the distinct pleasure of spending two days at Tyler Elementary School reading and discussing Talking Buddies with students in grades 1-5. This author visit was very rewarding for a number of reasons. First, two of my grandchildren, Tyler and Lila attend school there and have been delighted to have a book where they are the protagonists, shared with their classmates and school community. Second, many of the students who attend Tyler Elementary are learning Spanish as a second language, so the fact that the story is about immigrating to a new country and learning a new language is related to their daily experience. Last but certainly not least, is the fact that there are Spanish sentences and expressions embedded in the book, so we were able to engage in some choral reading in Spanish, which the children enjoyed. The students completed follow-up writing and art worksheets, were excellent listeners, asked insightful questions and made keen observations. All in all, a very rewarding experience.
Reactions to Talking Buddies:
“I liked Talking Buddies because the book was talking about making friends and helping people and making people feel welcome even if you just met them. And I think that it is also good because the characters in the book were speaking different languages.” Female student, aged 9
“Thank you, Dr. Franks-Randall, for visiting our school and empowering our students with life-long lessons!” Ms. Jasmine Brann, Principal, John Tyler Elementary School
“I think the plot of the story is really powerful. It helps students to understand that we can all help each other regarding our cultural and linguistic differences. Students can easily make connections with Talking Buddies because it relates to their experiences. “ Ms. Laura Chapa, Dual Language Coordinator, John Tyler Elementary School
“The most important things I learned from Talking Buddies is to always be helpful and kind, make people feel good, teach people that don’t know and don’t be afraid to speak another language.” Male student, aged 10
“As a first-grade teacher at Tyler, the author visit was engaging for my students and left them wanting to know more about the main characters in the story. Students asked if I could read Talking Buddies again the next day. They were also excited to see Lila in the hallway. They said, “Look, that’s Lila in real life from Talking Buddies!” Ms. Thomas, First-grade teacher, John Tyler Elementary School
“What I learned from Talking Buddies is that friendship is powerful.” Male student, aged 10
“I really liked the story because what happened to Alejandro happened to me because I don’t know a lot of English. I speak Spanish a lot because I’m from a Spanish country.” Female student, aged 9
I want to thank Ms. Laura Chapa, Dual Language Coordinator, for working with me to make this happen, Mr. Stephen Reichlen, Library-Media Specialist, for sharing his work space with me, and Ms. Jasmine Brann, Principal, for providing the leadership and support necessary for events of this nature to occur.
Putnam Valley Elementary School Author Visit, Putnam Valley, NY, October 17 and 18, 2019
I had the pleasure of spending two days at Putnam Valley Elementary School reading and discussing Playground Heroes with the students in grades K-4. Thanks to the Putnam Valley PTA, a copy of my book, Playground Heroes was purchased for every classroom in the school so all of the children were familiar with the story. That allowed me to delve deeply into the anti-bullying themes embedded in the book and discuss writing and illustrating techniques the students can use with their own stories.
The students in grades K-4 completed follow-up writing/art worksheets in their classrooms or during the session. They were excellent listeners and asked insightful questions.
“Our students loved your author visit at our school. Your student-centered visit was engaging, literacy based and so valuable in its content. Thank you for sharing your beautiful book with our students and for listening to their voices in your discussion of kindness and respect for others. We would love to have you visit again, and we will keep reading your wonderful work.”Margaret Podesta, Principal, Putnam Valley Elementary School
I want to say THANK YOU to Margaret Podesta, Putnam Valley Elementary School Principal, the Putnam Valley Elementary School PTA, the Character Education Committee, the staff and most of all the students. Everyone welcomed me with open arms!
Reactions to Playground Heroes from students:
“I liked Playground Heroes because it showed how to stand up for yourself or your friend when they are getting bullied. There were two girls named Zoe and Elle. They loved playing at the park and one day when they were at the park their friend Charlie came. They saw him get bullied and said don’t talk to Charlie like that he’s my friend. NEVER BULLY!!!” Male student, aged 9
“I liked Playground Heroes because of the very detailed wording and illustrating. I also liked how the author dedicated it to her family. I loved how the author actually made her book about real people, her granddaughters, Zoe and Elle.” Female student, aged 9
“I liked Playground Heroes because it will teach young kids to stand up to bullies. Bullies can hurt people mentally and physically. Bullying is a way to make someone feel bad about themselves. Playground Heroes will encourage kids to quit bullying if they have been bullying other kids and start standing up to bullying. If you are ever being bullied tell an adult as soon as you can. You won’t regret it.” Female student, aged 9
Makefield Elementary School Read-aloud, Yardley, PA, April 9, 2019
On Tuesday, April 9, 2019 I had the pleasure of reading Playground Heroes to Ms. Fucich’s first grade class at Makefield Elementary School. It was particularly exciting because my granddaughter Elle is in this class. Elle and her classmates were wonderful listeners and asked great questions. The students made a class booklet about Playground Heroes. Thank you, Ms. Fucich, for welcoming me into your classroom!
Sudlersville Elementary School Author Visit, Sudlersville, MD, Queen Anne’s County Schools March 25, 2019
On Monday, March 25, 2019, I spent the day reading Playground Heroes to students at Sudlersville Elementary School in grades 1-4. Many of the students remembered me from my visit last year when I read Jamal and Me. They were an enthusiastic and engaged audience and asked a lot of insightful questions once the read aloud concluded. They then completed grade appropriate follow up activities.
“Once again, Carol Franks-Randall enthralled students at Sudlersville Elementary School with her most recent book, Playground Heroes. Students were able to empathize with the character, Charlie, who was bullied on the playground. After reading aloud her book Playground Heroes, Dr. Franks-Randall challenged students to consider ways they could be a “playground” hero. Children relate easily with the characters in her books; we can’t wait to see what’s coming next from Dr. Franks-Randall!”
Pamela Renfrow/Media Specialist, Sudlersville Elementary School
Reactions to Playground Heroes from students:
“Well the main reason I liked the story was because the heroes were female kids, so I feel like that can inspire other young women to stop more than just bullying. Another reason I liked Playground Heroes was the illustrations. I think they really help explain what’s going on in the story.” Female student, aged 10
“I like how the author puts her grandchildren in the story. I also like how it inspires many many people to be a buddy not a bully and more. I also like how Zoe and Elle stood up for Charlie, their friend! Another reason is that there’s a moral to the story on how to stand up to bullies and to treat people how you want to be treated. That’s my quote on Playground Heroes.” Male student, aged 10
A big thank you to Pamela Renfrow, Library-Media Specialist and Rebecca Van Aken, Reading Specialist for working with me to make this happen!
Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES, March 11, 2019
On March 11, 2019 I spent the day at Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES. I spent the morning reading Playground Heroes to students at the Walden School library, located on the BOCES campus. The students and staff welcomed me with open arms. I want to give special recognition to Esmelinda Bucchignano who set up the Walden School event.
“Carol’s enthusiasm captivated our little audience of students! Her energy and hands-on reading sessions created enjoyable activity lessons for teachers to follow-up with after her visit.”
Esmelinda Bucchignano, Teaching Assistant, Walden School Library
In the afternoon, I conducted a three-hour workshop for teachers and library media specialists entitled “Using Picture Books to Promote Pro-social Skills” at the administration building, sponsored by the Hudson River Teachers Center and the Curriculum Center at Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES.
Picture Book Panelist, Bay to Ocean Writers Conference, Eastern Shore Writers Association, March 9, 2019
I was one of three authors who participated in a Picture Book Panel at the Bay to Ocean Writers Conference on Saturday, March 9, 2019. My fellow panelists were children’s book authors. The panel was moderated by Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr, who are distinguished children’s book authors. Topics discussed included self-publishing vs. traditional publishing, how to promote your books, how to work effectively with illustrators, etc. It was a well-run conference and a great experience. If you are an aspiring author I would highly recommend attending this conference and spending the day mingling and learning from established authors from a variety of genres.
Read Aloud at Grasonville Elementary School, Queen Anne’s County Schools, MD, February 25, 2019
On Monday, February 25, 2019, I read Playground Heroes to third and fifth grade students at Grasonville Elementary School as part of their celebration of Black History Month. I was invited by Kathy Barletta, Reading Specialist, and was graciously welcomed by the staff and students at the school.
“The students were so excited to have Carol Franks-Randall visit our school again this year. Many students remembered her visiting last year and reading her book Jamal and Me. They couldn’t wait to hear her new story, Playground Heroes. I really enjoyed the interaction between the students and Dr. Franks-Randall while she was reading her book. We can’t wait for her next visit to our school.”
Kathy Barletta, Reading Specialist, Grasonville Elementary School
Book Signing at the Book Loft, Fernandina Beach, FL, February 9, 2019
On Saturday, February 9, 2019 I had the pleasure of conducting a book signing for Playground Heroes at a charming independent book store called the Book Loft. The weather turned a little chilly that day, but I decided to set up operations right outside of the store so I could approach passersby as well as customers going into the store.
I had lots of wonderful conversations with folks and sold lots of books as well! I am proud to announce that Playground Heroes is now being sold at the Book Loft!
Author Visit at Tyler Elementary School, Washington, DC
January 28, 2019
On January 28, 2019 I had the pleasure of conducting a full-day author visit at Tyler Elementary School. I read Playground Heroes to students in grades K-5. It was particularly gratifying to share this book with these students because two of my grandchildren, Tyler and Lila attend school there.
I read Playground Heroes to grade level groups and was introduced by member of the school’s Anti-Bullying Committee. This group of 4th and 5th grade students are committed to addressing bullying and I commend their efforts. It was an honor to have them introduce me to their schoolmates.
After reading the book aloud and answering questions, the students worked on coloring sheets, posters and writing/art worksheets. There are examples of their work below.
Thank you Assistant Principals Warnick and Ndenecho for working with me to make this event happen!
Read-aloud at Grasonville Elementary School, Grasonville, MD
Queen Anne’s County Schools
November 15, 2018
On November 15, 2018 I had the pleasure of reading Playground Heroes to a group of first graders at Grasonville Elementary School. This reading was done as part of the Character Counts program. The children were wonderful listeners and after the reading they completed Playground Heroes coloring sheets. Thank you Merle Rockwell (Character Counts Volunteer) and Ms. Seward (teacher) for inviting me to your classroom!
Reading at Seacrest Studios, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC
October 26, 2018
I had the opportunity to share my latest book, Playground Heroes with patients at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC on Friday, October 26, 2018.
The visit took place at Seacrest Studios, which is a facility created by the Ryan Seacrest Foundation. This multi-purpose center provides programming for patients five days a week from 9 AM – 4 PM. Patients can perform original programs and/or watch staff members and visitors (like me) read books, perform musical selections, conduct interviews, etc. The beauty of this facility is that the children do not have to come to the studio in person – they can watch the proceedings on television monitors in their rooms. In addition, college students who are pursuing studies in broadcasting/communications are able to perform internships at these facilities. There are ten Seacrest Studios in children’s hospitals across the United States.
During my time at Seacrest Studios, I was interviewed by the two staff members (Morgan and Nichole) who run the facility. After a twenty minute interview where I talked about my journey as a writer and tips for aspiring writers, I read Playground Heroes aloud. While there were no children in the studio while I was there, my “show” was broadcast to the over 300 patients in their hospital rooms. A big thank you to Children’s National Medical Center for welcoming me to your facility and making the experience so rewarding.
Meet the Author with the Friends of the Library – October 25, 2018
Chick-fil-A, Chester, MD
The Friends of Queen Anne’s County Library invited me to read Playground Heroes at a read-aloud event at Chick-fil-A in Chester, MD. The staff at Chick-fil-A were very accommodating and provided a reading space for me and the children (and several adults as well).
After listening to Playground Heroes the children received stickers, coloring pages and word search sheets. A good time was had by all.
My sincere thanks to the Friends of Queen Anne’s County Library for inviting me to share my book, and to Chick-fil-A for hosting this community event.
Upper Shore Literacy Chapter Presentation: “Calling All Aspiring Writers: Tools of the Trade from a Local Author” – October 24, 2018
I had the pleasure of being the dinner speaker at the first meeting of the year of the Upper Shore Literacy Chapter. The title of the talk was “Calling All Aspiring Writers: Tools of the Trade from a Local Author”. Attendees at this gathering included classroom teachers, reading specialists, classroom teachers, administrators, college professors, teaching assistants, parents and retired educators.
At this meeting, I had the opportunity to share with the audience my journey as a children’s book author. We circled back to how my experience can help inspire students and adults to embrace the writing process and if desired, publish their work. We reviewed the Dr. Toughlove’s Tips for Young Writers that can be found on the Just for Kids page on this website. A lively question and answer period followed.
Mary Lou Nelson invited me to speak and I’d like to thank her, Co-chairs Lisa Herckner and Jennifer Osborne, and all of the participants for an invigorating session. I hope you will consider joining this group. Their website is https://www.somla.online/
Author visit at Church Hill Elementary School, Church Hill, Maryland
October 15, 2018
On October 15, 2018 I spent the entire day at Church Hill Elementary School, which is located Queen Anne’s County, MD.
I met Carrie Foreman, the school’s very capable Library-Media Specialist, at the end of the 2017-18 school year. When she learned that I was a local children’s book author, she very quickly asked me to come to her school and share my books with her students.
I read Jamal and Me to every student in the school (grades Pre-K – 4) and had a wonderful time sharing my experience as a writer with them. Ms. Foreman introduced many of the students to my website the week before the event, so they asked me a lot of very specific questions about how I become an author, why I became an author, and what books I hoped to write in the future.
“Dr. Franks-Randall has combined her extensive educational background with her love of books. She has written books that address issues happening in our schools in a way that students can identify with and learn. Jamal and Me helps students accept and give new students a chance. The lesson being that kindness and caring can change a person’s life.”
Carrie Foreman, Church Hill Elementary School, Media Specialist
“Dr. Franks-Randall’s presentation was a wonderful experience for our students. Learning how a real author applied the writing process to her craft was an inspiration. Dr. Franks-Randall’s book, Jamal and Me captured the true essence of childhood issues and dealt with them in a positive, realistic manner.”
Jacquelyn Wilhelm, Church Hill Elementary School, Principal
“What an incredible way to present a tough childhood issue to students! Dr. Franks-Randall was engaging and sincere in her presentation, and left our students with a thoughtful message on kindness.”
Stacey Deighan, Church Hill Elementary School, 4th Grade Teacher
Thank you, Ms. Foreman, for making this visit happen. Thank you, Church Hill Elementary School students for the beautiful handmade thank you notes. It was a rewarding experience!
Author visit at Sudlersville Elementary School, Sudlersville, Maryland
June 7, 2018
On June 7, 2018 I had the pleasure of spending the entire day at Sudlersville Elementary School, which is located in Queen Anne’s County, MD.
Under the capable leadership of Pamela Renfrow (Library-Media Specialist) and Rebecca Van Aken (Reading Specialist), I was able to read Jamal and Me to students in grades K-4. The students were divided into grade level groups which enabled the read aloud time and the follow-up writing activities to be developmentally appropriate. Kindergarten students completed coloring sheets, students in grades 1-3 completed drawings and written exercises, and grade 4 students made posters encouraging others to read Jamal and Me. Below are some pictures that demonstrate how hard the students worked!
“What a valuable experience for students to be able to put a face to an author’s name. The students were captivated by Dr. Carol Franks-Randall’s reading of her first published book, Jamal and Me. Her visit was educational and inspiring for all 300 Kindergarten through fourth grade students at Sudlersville Elementary School.”
Pamela Renfrow, Library-Media Specialist, Sudlersville Elementary School
“Dr. Franks-Randall visited Sudlersville Elementary to encourage our students to use their creative minds to write and not only has she encouraged but she has empowered them to think and write creatively.”
Thomas Walls, Principal, Sudlersville Elementary School
“Dr. Franks- Randall encouraged all students to make a difference in the world through acts of kindness and creativity. She has served as a model and mentor for our students to show them that anything is possible with preparation, perseverance and persistence. We thank her for encouraging the love of reading and writing in our elementary school students. We look forward to reading her new book, Playground Heroes and her next visit to Sudlersville Elementary School!”
Rebecca Van Aken, Reading Specialist, Sudlersville Elementary School
Thank you, Sudlersville Elementary School staff and students for the warm welcome!
Read-aloud at Tyler Elementary School, Washington, DC
May 16, 2018
On May 16, 2018, I had the pleasure of visiting Tyler Elementary School and reading Jamal and Me to a group of second grade students. My grandson, Tyler, was in the class and I had a wonderful time reading to his classmates and working on a writing worksheet with them. As you can see from the photos above and worksheets below, these students are hard workers! Thank you, Ms. Weekes for working with me to make this happen!
Author Visit at Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES, Yorktown Heights, NY – March 23, 2018
On March 23, 2018 I spent the day at Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES. I spent the morning reading Jamal and Me to students at the Walden School library, located on the BOCES campus. The students welcomed me with open arms.
In the afternoon, I conducted a three-hour workshop for teachers, library media specialists and clinical staff entitled “Using Picture Books to Promote Pro-social Skills” at the administration building, sponsored by the Hudson River Teachers Center and the Curriculum Center at Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES.
See the link below:
Reactions to the workshop:
Dr. Franks-Randall is an enchanting storyteller and motivating presenter who inspires all those fortunate enough to attend one of her professional development activities – especially on the topic of using picture books to promote pro-social skills. You will want her to return again and again.
Dr. Lynn Allen, Assistant Superintendent, Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES
For me our time together reinforced the value of reading picture books aloud. Upon returning to my library I will look for books that can do “double duty” – applicable to building literacy and social skills. This workshop also reminded me to think carefully about questioning and to be mindful of the types of questions I am asking my students.
Christine Roper, Library Media Specialist, Yorktown Schools
What made an impact on me was when you said that the illustrations are just as powerful as the words on the page. Children should be invited to pay particular attention to them because they can draw inferences and express the character’s feelings.
Tracy Carrigan, Teacher, Pocantico Hills School District
Read-aloud at Makefield Elementary School, Yardley, PA
March 6, 2018
On March 6, 2018 I had the pleasure of reading Jamal and Me to my granddaughter Elle’s kindergarten class. They were an attentive audience, and I really enjoyed my time in Mrs. Koellner’s classroom. Elle was my trusty assistant and did a wonderful job!
Thank you, Mrs. Koellner, for allowing me to share Jamal and Me with your fabulous group of students!
Author Reading at Grasonville Elementary School
Grasonville, MD, Queen Anne’s County Schools
February 23, 2018
I was invited by Kathy Barletta, the reading specialist at Grasonville Elementary School, to read aloud to students in second and fourth grade as part of their African-American Read-In program.
I was greeted by enthusiastic staff and delightful children. What a wonderful experience!
“We were very fortunate to have Carol read Jamal and Me to our 2nd and 4th graders today. The powerful message captured the students’ attention and everyone was so excited to meet a real author. We cannot wait to have Carol come back and read with our students again.”
Kathy Barletta, Reading Specialist
I loved every minute of my visit to Grasonville Elementary School and look forward to returning in the not too distant future!
Author reading at White Marsh Elementary School
Trappe, MD, Talbot County Schools
February 2, 2018
On February 2, 2018, I visited White Marsh Elementary School in Trappe, MD. I spent the afternoon at the school and read Jamal and Me aloud to Kindergarten, first, second and third grade students. I had the opportunity to talk to the students about the process of writing a children’s book, and how it takes many drafts to get a finished product. I encouraged the students to take their creative writing seriously and not to be afraid to continue to make their work the best it can be.
Reactions from staff at White Marsh Elementary School:
Carol did an amazing job reading Jamal and Me. The students were captivated by the story and learned a great lesson too! This is a great story to teach students how they can help a new student at their school.
J. Elliott, Grade 3 Teacher
I truly enjoyed listening to Carol read her story. My favorite part was the last page with the letter. The speech bubble stating, “What a Treat! I get to read Jamal’s letter every day” spoke to me. I have had so many students in my classroom like Jamal, but when I am finally able to make a connection those letters mean the world. Please share with Carol how thankful I am for her writing a book that speaks to so many teachers.
T. Blessing, Grade 2 Teacher
Our students truly enjoyed listening to Carol read Jamal and Me! What a wonderful story with a impressionable message!!! The illustrations and “speech bubbles” added to the powerful message in the book. The students and staff were a captive audience. Thank you for sharing your work with our school community.
K. Seidel, Principal
A truly wonderful experience! Thank you Kim Seidel and the White Marsh Elementary School staff!
Read-aloud at Grasonville Elementary School
Grasonville, MD, Queen Anne’s County Schools
December 7, 2017
On December 7, 2017 I had the pleasure of reading Jamal and Me to a group of first graders at Grasonville Elementary School which is in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. This reading was done as part of the Character Counts program. Thank you Merle Rockwell (Character Counts Volunteer) and Ms. Seward (teacher) for inviting me to your classroom!