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Author Visits

School Visit Programs

As a former elementary school teacher, college professor of teacher education, and Jack Hanna’s assistant at the Columbus Zoo, Dr. Becker truly enjoys giving programs based on his 26 books for children. Dr. Becker has two basic types of programs available. First, he presents a traditional Author Visit program based on one, or more, of his books. Because Dr. Becker worked as an administrator at the Columbus Zoo for several years, all of his books for children are about wildlife, and many include a wildlife conservation theme.


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 African animals in their natural habitat. Thereafter, Dr. Becker will read from Maggie the Talented Mouse, Mugambi’s Journey, or one of his other books, and allow students 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, or one of his other books, show additional video, read more sections from the book, and conclude with another question and answer segment.


Author Visit Program:
Duration: one day to one week
Requirements: Multipurpose room/gym & library

Author Visit Brochure

Schedule This Activity

Since most of Dr. Becker’s books are nonfiction, he also presents a Nonfiction Writing Workshop program, in which he guides students through the steps he follows in creating a nonfiction book, or magazine article. These programs have been given very high marks for preparing students for writing proficiency tests, and for motivating students to become enthusiastic writers of nonfiction. Throughout the day(s) as Dr. Becker works with students, he has them write, and share their writing. Teachers are always very pleased with the quality of the writing their students come up with during a workshop.


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.

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, Discovering the Amazon Rainforest, etc.) 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.


Nonfiction Writing Workshops
Duration: one day to one week
Requirements: Multipurpose room/gym & library

Adventures In Writing Brochure Schedule This Activity

Dr. Becker can also present a hybrid program, in which he presents an Author Visit program to lower grade students, usually focusing on his picture book, Mugambi’s Journey, and presents a Nonfiction Writing Workshop program to the upper grade students. There are a number of different themes, with the African Safari theme being one of the most popular.


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 any of Dr. Becker’s other books, while the upper grade students have a Nonfiction Writing Workshop Program.


Hybrid Program
Duration: one day to one week
Requirements: Multipurpose room/gym & library

Schedule This Activity


Ask about Dr. Becker’s unique “Wild About Reading” Evening Family program option as a great addition to the normal one-day to one-week programs (these popular programs are included at no additional charge when multiple-day programs are scheduled). During a “Wild About Reading” program, Dr. Becker talks about the importance of reading to success in life, and the role that reading has played in the amazing life he has been so fortunate to lead. Dr. Becker tells stories about adventures he has had around the world seeing the animals he writes about in their natural habitats, he shares video of his field research in Africa, reads from his Mugambi’s Journey and Frenemies for Life books, and answers questions from the audience. After the formal program, usually 45 minutes to one hour, Dr. Becker will sign books that folks purchase, so they have a signed book to take home.

For further information, contact Dr. Becker at, or 740-957-9367.


“Dr. John Becker provided our students with a fascinating day of information and stories about his popular nonfiction animal books. The students, staff and parents were very impressed with the amount of time that Dr. Becker took with each individual in autographing books. We would thoroughly enjoy having
Dr. John Becker return in the near future.”

— James.D. Taylor, Principal, Myrtle Avenue Elementary, Pittsburgh, PA.

“We at Immaculate Conception School truly enjoy our annual visit by Dr. Becker. John's ability to motivate and excite students about the writing process is second to none. Our students find John's knowledge of wildlife truly intriguing. John has a special way of integrating science, geography, and the writing process while exciting students about the endless possibilities related to both non-fiction and creative writing.” 

John Zucal, Principal, Immaculate Conception School, Dennison, OH.

“Dr. Becker has been a chosen author visit for four years in a row here at Scioto Trail. Our children look forward to his visits and are always entertained by his stories and anecdotes about nature and animals. Our Ohio Fourth Grade Proficiency scores in Writing have increased to 83.7%!! This is well above the state standard and we owe this, in part, to Dr. Becker's visits, helping us reinforce the value of writing and expression. The staff and students are very excited about next year's visit and the new picture book.”

Candace M. Nespeca, Principal, Scioto Trail Elementary, Columbus, OH.

Dr. Becker spent a day at our school, describing his approach to research, writing, and his life’s work in conservation efforts.  Dr. Becker described his experience in collecting information from print library resources, from Internet resources, and from field work. His rapport with students was outstanding, making the experience meaningful and memorable, bringing science to life for his students. Hosting a visit from Dr. Becker brought a heightened understanding of the delicate balance between the environment and animal life of our communities.  What better way for students to become motivated to act as caring stewards of local wild places and wildlife habitats?”

Jane Sestric, Librarian, Ross Elementary, Pittsburgh, PA.