Artists in Schools Directory

   

John Becker

Artist's Narrative

John Becker

Dr. John Becker has been an elementary school teacher, college professor of teacher education at the University of Florida, assistant to Jack Hanna at the Columbus Zoo, Director of The International Society for Endangered Cats, and is now a full-time freelance writer of books for children.  He has presented hundreds of programs across the United States and Canada, appeared on Good Morning America, and many other radio and television programs.  His latest book, Frenemies for Life, the first book published by the Columbus Zoo, went to #1 on Amazon.com's Best Selling List of Books for Children in 2011, and his book, Wild Cats Past & Present, won a Voya Award in 2009 as one of the best nonfiction books for middle school students.  In addition to his 28 books, he has also written for Highlights for Children, Boy's Life, Zoolife, Chickadee, Hopscotch for Girls, Wildlife Conservation, Wild Outdoor World as well as a number of other magazines. Dr. Becker has also taught writing at the Thurber House Literary Center for the past 19 years, and he is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Availability

Upon request.
This artist is based in central Ohio. Travel charges may apply for schools outside of the area.

Programs Available

Author Visit Program: Frenemies for Life (Grade levels K-8)

“The fastest land animal on Earth is in danger, and some special dogs are coming to the rescue. The first book published by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (for grade levels 2-7 Aug. 2010), Frenemies for Life, describes a very unusual approach to saving an animal from extinction - by using one of its natural enemies to help! Cheetahs are hunted by farmers who feel the wild cats are a threat to their herds. The Cheetah Conservation Fund discovered that a special breed of dog, the Anatolian shepherd, can protect herds by chasing off hungry cheetahs. With these dogs around, farmers no longer need to kill the cats. To educate the public about this wonderful program, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (Ohio) has raised four `frenemies’ together: two cheetah cubs and two Anatolian shepherd  pups. These Animal Ambassadors have appeared on television and in classrooms across the country, and kids can get to know them in this photo-filled book.”

Activity: During the opening assembly, Dr. Becker will stress the importance of reading and writing to success in life. He will introduce the books he has written, and give a brief overview of his books’ themes. He will use storytelling to illustrate how wild animals have influenced his writing, and show video of some of the field research he has done in Africa observing cheetahs in their natural habitat. Thereafter, Dr. Becker will read from Frenemies for Life, and give students the opportunity to ask questions based on his books and travels around the world.

During the smaller group sessions throughout the rest of the day Dr. Becker will relate the “story behind the story” of how he came to write Frenemies for Life, incorporating storytelling, video of his field research specifically for this book, read more sections from the book, and conclude with another question and answer segment.

Activity Options:
Author Visit Program: Frenemies for Life
  • Duration: one day to one week
  • Fees: $700/day or $3,000/week
  • Requirements: Multipurpose room & library. Mileage will be added for programs outside of Franklin and Delaware Counties.

Author Visit Program: Wild Cats Past & Present (Grade levels 3-8)

Wild Cats Past & Present (Darby Creek Publishing, Plain City, Ohio), was named to VOYA’s (Voice of Youth Advocacy) 2009 Honor List as one of the top nonfiction books for middle school/junior high school readers, and was also a Junior Library Guild Premiere Selection.  Wild Cats goes continent by continent across the world, detailing information about wild cats in each region.  Beautiful full-color photographs give readers a visual treat.  All thirty-six species of wild cats make an appearance, with the spotlight on some of the most amazing creatures on Earth, along with a few of their ferocious ancestors.  Categorized by geographic region, the text shows how felines have adapted to their environment—from the tigers of Siberia to the rare, tiny sand cats that hide in the caves and boroughs of northern Africa.  Yet despite the survival instincts that have kept felines around since the days of the saber-tooth cats, many of these wild cats are among the most endangered animals in the world.  As the earth’s human population increases, fewer and fewer open spaces remain for wildlife.  Wild Cats: Past & Present places special emphasis on the ever-shrinking habitat of felines and how conservation groups are working to protect them.

Activity: During the opening assembly, Dr. Becker will stress the importance of reading and writing to success in life. He will introduce the books he has written, and give a brief overview of his books’ themes. He will use storytelling to illustrate how wild animals have influenced his writing, and show video of some of the field research he has done in Africa observing wild cats in their natural habitat. Thereafter, Dr. Becker will read from Wild Cats Past & Present, and give students the opportunity to ask questions based on his books and travels around the world.

During the smaller group sessions throughout the rest of the day Dr. Becker will relate the “story behind the story” of how he came to write Wild Cats Past & Present, incorporating storytelling, video of his field research specifically for this book, read more sections from the book, and conclude with another question and answer segment.

Activity Options:
Author Visit Program: Wild Cats Past & Present
  • Duration: one day to one week
  • Fees: $700/day or $3,000/week
  • Requirements: Multipurpose room & library. Mileage will be added for programs outside of Franklin and Delaware Counties.

Author Visit Program: Mugambi's Journey (Grade levels K-3)

A picture book published by Gingham Dog Press for grade levels K-3. "When Mugambi, a cheetah cub, leads his young sisters from the safety of their den to find their mother, he discovers that exploring the harsh wilderness of the Serengeti Plains in Africa is both frightening and amazing. Drawn by curiosity to the unfamiliar beauty of these new surroundings, young Mugambi soon learns the importance of relying on instinct when faced with dangerous enemies and situations."

Activity: During the opening assembly, Dr. Becker will stress the importance of reading and writing to success in life. He will introduce the books he has written, and give a brief overview of his books’ themes. He will use storytelling to illustrate how wild animals have influenced his writing, and show video of some of the field research he has done in Africa observing cheetahs in their natural habitat. Thereafter, Dr. Becker will read from Mugambi’s Journey, and give students the opportunity to ask questions based on his books and travels around the world.

During the smaller group sessions throughout the rest of the day Dr. Becker will relate the “story behind the story” of how he came to write Mugambi’s Journey, incorporating storytelling, video of his field research specifically for this book, read more sections from the book, and conclude with another question and answer segment.

Activity Options:
Author Visit Program: Mugambi's Journey
  • Duration: one day to one week
  • Fees: $700/day or $3,000/week
  • Requirements: Multipurpose room & library. Mileage will be added for programs outside of Franklin and Delaware Counties.

Author Visit Program: Seedling Books (Grade levels K-3)

The Seedling books (8 books) are written for beginning readers with colorful illustrations and lots of factual information. "Seedling Readers are little books that fit comfortably in small hands. They contain print that is clear and bold, with ample spacing between words. Colorful, expressive illustrations or photographs clearly support the text."

Activity: During the opening assembly, Dr. Becker will stress the importance of reading and writing to success in life. He will introduce the books he has written, and give a brief overview of his books’ themes. He will use storytelling to illustrate how wild animals have influenced his writing, and show video of some of the field research he has done in various countries observing animals in their natural habitat. Thereafter, Dr. Becker will read from his Seedling books, and give students the opportunity to ask questions based on his books and travels around the world.

During the smaller group sessions throughout the rest of the day Dr. Becker will relate the “story behind the story” of how he came to write his Seedling books, incorporating storytelling, video of his field research specifically for these books, read more sections from the books, and conclude with another question and answer segment.

Books include: Hawks, Owls, Camels, Giraffes, Scarlet Macaws, Snow Leopards, Cheetahs, Kangaroos

Activity Options:
Author Visit Program: Seedling Books Seedling Books
  • Duration: one day to one week
  • Fees: $700/day or $3,000/week
  • Requirements: Multipurpose room & library. Mileage will be added for programs outside of Franklin and Delaware Counties.

Nonfiction Writing Workshops (Grade levels K-6)

A Nonfiction Writing Workshop program is geared toward helping students discover the enjoyment of nonfiction writing.  Participants will improve their investigative skills, and discover how to share what they learn through their writing.  These workshops have proven successful in motivating reluctant writers to become enthusiastic learners/writers.  Programs are ideal for students in grades K-6.

Activity: Prior to a Nonfiction Writing Workshop, students complete a library research project based on an animal they will see on their “trip” to a chosen destination.  During the opening assembly Dr. Becker utilizes storytelling to show students how personal experiences in the natural world can be the basis for a personal experience narrative of their own.  The session includes a writing exercise in which students write about their experiences focusing on the details of the experience and using lots of description.  The session concludes with students sharing their writing.  Within grade-level sessions, students travel to their chosen destination (i.e. An African Safari, Mysteries of the Amazon, Exploring the Coral Reef, Adventures in the Rainforests, and Discovering Endangered American Animals) via video.  The sights and sounds encountered on the trip, and the information collected during the library research pre-visit assignment, will form the basis for the day’s major writing experience.  After the writing session, students will have the opportunity to share what they have written once again.
 

Activity Options:
Nonfiction Writing Workshops
  • Duration: one day to one week
  • Fees: $700/day or $3,000/week
  • Requirements: Multipurpose room & library. Mileage will be added for programs outside of Franklin and Delaware Counties.

Hybrid Program (Grade levels K-6)

Hybrid Programs, in which one group of students have an Author Visit program, while other groups of students have a Nonfiction Writing Workshop program, have become a popular option for schools. Typically, the hybrid programs have lower grade students involved in an Author Visit program based on Mugambi’s Journey, or the Seedling book series, while the upper grade students have a Nonfiction Writing Workshop Program, but there are other options as well.

Activity Options:
Hybrid Program
  • Duration: one day to one week
  • Fees: $700/day or $3,000/week
  • Requirements: Multipurpose room & library. Mileage will be added for programs outside of Franklin and Delaware Counties.