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I have been writing stories ever since I was in elementary school. I remember my first one well. I made up a legend about the creation of thunder, lightning, and hail.
My love of weather began in 3rd grade. Growing up near Los Angeles, I wasn't used to "real" weather - or snow for that matter. Well, one December morning at school it did snow! Our principal came in and told our teacher to let us play outside. That memory still sticks today.
Years later, as an elementary school teacher, my classes ran a school weather station. That led me to write my first published book, The Weather Report. It also landed me a consulting job with The Weather Channel. And, it opened the door to television weather. My first TV weather casting job was as a weekend weatherman in San Luis Obispo, CA- while I was teaching.
Now, years later, I have written several books on weather for children- both fiction and non-fiction. I also have several teacher's books and science kits published on weather. And, because my intrigue for weather has never left, I am, at times, a weathercaster for KHSL-TV in Chico.
But, weather is not the only topic I enjoy, I also love to write realistic fiction books for children on the outdoors. I have published books out on: caving, dinosaur digs, whale rescues, ghost towns, animal encounters, and much more. I have currently written over 70 books for children.
I write national park books for kids and my adventure series is something I am very proud of. The Adventures with the Parkers series currently has 6 books published taking place in: Zion/Bryce, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains, and Olympic. Future books in the works include: Glacier, Rocky Mountain, Arches/Canyonlands, the Badlands/Mt. Rushmore and more. This series has already received national attention, awards, and excellent reviews.
I spent ten years teaching 4th and 5th grades and GATE classes. I love visiting schools and my presentations can range from 1st - 8th grade. Some of my most popular topics include: weather, national park adventures, writing realistic fiction, storytelling and selected readings, and topic-based science based on my books. I am comfortable presenting to small and large groups, in workshop style, or in whole school assemblies.
Currently, I teach Child Development classes at Chico State in Northern California. Most of my time is split between teaching, writing, and visiting schools. I live in Chico with my wife, Kimberly, our daughter, Maggie, and our two cats, Clare and Katina. When I have free time, I enjoy biking, hiking, backpacking, camping, and of course, spending time in the national parks.
School Talks and Presentations
One of the great aspects of writing books for children, is that I get to visit schools and share my stories in person.
My presentations run the gamut of 1st through 8th grade, as well as giving talks to educators and parents. I am an enthusiastic storyteller and would be delighted to present at your school. Many of my talks revolve around weather, caving, storm chasing, dinosaur digs, animal encounters, and other outdoor adventure and science related topics. My newly released national parks series, weather, and/or the writing process itself are some of my most frequently requested presentations.
I also give specialized, hands-on writing and weather workshops for smaller groups and GATE classes. My background includes:
Upper grade elementary school and GATE teacher for 10 years
Author of more than 70 books for teachers and children
Development of science kits for elementary and middle school classes
Former weathercaster at 5 different TV stations
Consultant for The Weather Channel
Instructor for Child Development and Education Departments at California State University, Chico, CA
Topics for multi-class or single-class presentations at your school:
What it's like to be a children's book author
How to write realistic fiction stories
Coaching, judging and implementing school writing contests
National park fairs
GATE class instruction
Weather 101: basic weather elements, hands on activities, and experiments related to weather
General storytelling relating to many of my favorite stories while researching my books
Rates for School Talks and Presentations:
Professional Fees: Generally $250.00 per assembly.
Rates vary depending upon travel, book sales, and number of presentations per day.
Travel expenses also vary depending upon location.
School Talk Reviews
"Dixie students sat wide-eyed listening to adventures in realistic fiction writing by children's author, Mike Graf, at our Annual Author Assembly sponsored by the Dixie Home and School Club, on Thursday, April 9. Graf shared and inspired our students with his experience in writing since he was a young boy in 5th grade. Graf's exciting action-packed stories of childhood and his recent adventures to national parks served to illustrate for our students the transformation in creative writing; turning real unusual situations into exciting fictional stories with unique protagonists. Graf even shared his top secret ingredient for writing..." - Maya, PTA Representative, Dixie Elementary School, San Rafael, CA
"My name is Courtney Wheeler and I am the Library Media Specialist at Nashua Elementary School in North Kansas, Missouri. Our PTA brought Mike Graf to our school on February 18, 2009 to do author presentations for our kids. He is one of the most fascinating authors that we have ever hosted. His ability to pull the audience in to his presentations from Kindergarten to the oldest staff member was truly amazing. Mr. Graf's presentations were full of interesting facts and intertwined great science knowledge with the foundations of writing realistic fiction. The students, teachers, and parents can not stop raving about his presentations and the impression it made on everyone that heard them. His books have flown off the shelf and have a waiting list a mile long. I highly recommend any school or organization to have the privilege of hosting Mike Graf."- Courtney Wheeler, Library Media Specialist, Nashua Elementary School, North Kansas, MS
"This is year three and building three for me having Mike Graf at one of my school's. They are always wonderful talks. In every building my students have been captivated by his presentations and inspired to write! Mike truly engages the students- a rarity for my middle schools- and they love it! I had more kids come in after Mike left just to see if they could check out some of his books! They whined out loud when I said they wouldn't be ready until tomorrow!" - Marian McHugh, National Board Certified Teacher/Library Media, Cashman Middle School, Las Vegas, NV
"Mike Graf was very entertaining for all ages- students and teachers!" "Our students were able to return to school and build on what's already being taught when writing stories. They really enjoyed listening and learning from Mike Graf." - Teachers who brought 5-6 graders to the Plum Creek Children's Literacy Festival, Seward, NE
"Thank you so much for including York in the Plum Creek Festival. Mike Graf was an exemplary speaker. The kids thoroughly enjoyed him." - Bonnie Moses, York Elementary School, York, NE
"Mike Graf's assembly was one of the most enjoyable and worthwhile assemblies we have had. He had the students engaged and attentive during that short hour. I believe that he inspired our students to want to write more (and better) stories. He told things the way they are and made himself more real by doing so. Thank you!"- Debbie Houghton, 4th Grade Teacher, Hurricane Elementary School, UT
"Great! We have had such great feedback from students and teachers alike. I don't think the teachers thought their students were capable of being engrossed for a stretch of time like that." - Katie Demsher, Assistant Principal, Plum Canyon Elementary School, Saugus, CA
"We loved having you visit our school! I have been fielding compliments about your presentation for the last two days! The teachers, including myself enjoyed it as much as the kids did. Thank you so much for coming! Teachers were very impressed with how you kept the kids focused and how much they learned from you about writing. You are a dynamic speaker. Your talk didn't even seem like an hour." - Kathleen Gipson, Literacy Specialist, Monte Cristo Elementary, Granite Falls, WA
"I was told by a staff member that the kids talked about you all afternoon! It was a great morning!" "I want to thank Marian for getting our author here this morning. Mike Graf was just a wonderful speaker. Our 3-5 grades were just entranced with his stories from start to finish!" - Marian McHugh, Library Media Teacher, Paula Laub, Writing Specialist, Paradise Professional Development School, Las Vegas, NV
"Thank you for the excellent presentation you gave to our students at Bodega Bay School. Although the talk was aimed at 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders, you were able to engage and interest the three lower grades as well. The teachers were very pleased with the presentation also."- Carolyn Connors, Bodega Bay Elementary School, CA
"Thank you for your recent visit to our school...You did a remarkable job of altering your presentations so that the varying grade level presentations were age appropriate and clearly enjoyable for all. Your teaching experience was evidenced by your ability to command and hold the attention of the students...what an outstanding presentation you gave to the students. Our best yet!" - Barbara Danowitz, Principal, St. John Eudes School, Chatsworth, CA
"I wanted to thank you again for coming to Bilbray yesterday. I have gotten so many positive comments today about the assemblies yesterday and the program last night. The students and teachers think you are amazing. I hope that you'll be able to come back to our school in the future. Good luck to you on your next books!" - Gayle Jefferson, Literacy Specialist, Bilbray Elementary School, Las Vegas, NV
"It was a pleasure having you in our room on Wednesday. The students really enjoyed writing their realistic fiction stories. I know it was intense, but I do have to say, the students stayed focused, and really enjoyed the process. I have received nothing but positive feedback from parents and students. It was truly an honor to have you as a guest in our class." - Miss Rodriguez, 4th Grade Teacher, Alexander Dawson School, Las Vegas, NV
"Thank you for coming to our class. I learned a lot about writing. I liked to write before, but now I love it! I learned what morbid vs. sugar-coated means now. I think I will never forget how to make your story interesting. Now I know that you should put an unusual situation in every story. Now I am using dialogue in my stories. I can't wait to finish my story. Thank you again." - 4th Grade Student, Alexander Dawson School, Las Vegas, NV
"Thank you very much for everything. It was great. My daughter, a seventh grade student, said you were the best author we have ever had. I'd say that is quite a compliment since we have had some really great authors, and since the middle school age can be a difficult age to please, since they already know everything, lol." - Mary Larez, Librarian and parent of Mikaela Larez, 7th Grade Student, St. John Eudes School, Chatsworth, CA
"Mike Graf is an excellent informative teacher/author. He walked into each class a natural and with excellent skills in capturing the audiences' attention and getting across information and telling stories. Highly recommended!" - Paradise Valley Arizona
"I very much enjoyed your presentations this morning at San Domenico... Your realistic fiction presentation was fabulous. I liked all aspects of it: grammar, vocabulary, different concepts for characters, recording excursions, real life experiences. All important contributions to the story. Very exciting...you were super!" - M. Schwerin, Librarian, Brookside Upper Campus, San Anselmo, CA
"Please tell Mr. Graf that I thought he did an excellent job at the assembly! His talk was very informative, yet by defining vocabulary, bringing some physical objects, and using storytelling techniques he was able to connect with a young audience. I was also very impressed with his management skills; it was a pleasure to attend an assembly where an intrinsically interesting presentation engaged the students so much that virtually none of the students grew restless or bored. Obviously, Mr. Graf has a wealth of experience managing large numbers of students, and he was well prepared to discuss his books and the ways he gets his ideas. I hope that he can speak with our students sometime again in the future, and I am sure that any other district would be fortunate to have him present at their school." - Lisa Doig, Rescue Union School District Lake Forest School, El Dorado Hills, CA
"If you have Mike Graf coming to your school during Nevada Reading Week are you in for a true adventure! Mike travels and writes about his real experiences in his Realistic Fiction Books. Mike has written over 70 books. His books are bursting with information. Students, parents, and teachers loved his presentations! Hold onto your hats... " - Ruby Sandoval, Teacher and Librarian, Lummis Elementary School, Las Vegas, NV
"Over fall break, we drove up to the Grand Canyon. The kids really loved the book Tale of the Scorpion. Eliana kept mentioning to me that we were going to take a day hike. She packed up our backpacks with all the important things: water, food, a salty snack, flashlight, etc. We even bought a black light flashlight so we could hunt for scorpions! She reminded Mike and I to start drinking water well before our trip. When we got to the Canyon, we started walking on the trail. Eliana started going down, down, down. When I told her we weren't going to the bottom, she was shocked! She was so upset! She thought we were going to hike right to the bottom, just like in the book! It was priceless!! Thankfully, she was satisfied with our long hike around the rim." - Miriam Spizzirri, Parent of 4th Grade Student, Tesseract School, Phoenix, AZ
"Mike's presentation was terrific. He held the students attention with experiments, hands-on cloud chart building and reading from his books." - Santa Clara, CA
"Mike Graf was a great hit with the fifth grade teachers and students at our school. He tailored his presentation to fit the weather/extreme nature themes the fifth grade students had been studying in class." - Tiburon, CA
"I found Mike Graf to be both professional and gracious when I worked with him. He was helpful in providing information and materials. I enjoyed his presentation and would gladly have him again." - Orland, CA
"The kids really enjoyed Mike's lecture--in fact, the first grade teacher told me her students talked about the caves for the rest of the day. Every comment I heard was positive--from the kids and faculty alike." - Melissa Moore, Junipero Serra School, Carmel, CA
"Mike, you were getting rave reviews all day long yesterday! The teachers LOVED your presentation, and were so delighted to have you here that they've already asked me if we can book you for next fall to speak to next year's fifth graders!" - Melissa Jones, Librarian, Bel Aire School, Tiburon, CA
"The children and adults were enthralled by Mike's presentation. Mike's stories really came alive for the children. Lots of positive feedback from all who attended." - Dixie Elementary, Marin County, CA
"Mike's presentations were engaging, exciting, and informative. Both students and teachers will remember his visit for years to come." - Anna Lane, Glenn County Office of Education
"I can't begin to tell you what a pleasure it was to have Mike at our school. The students and staff really enjoyed the presentations. I really liked the ease of working with him." - Dorothy Garrelts -- Johnstonville School, Susanville, CA
"I am getting rave reviews about Mike's sessions....the teachers all loved him." - Lore Silva, Librarian, Vista Grande School, San Diego, CA
"The best author we have had come and visit." - PTA president, Gold River School, Folsom, CA
Adventures with the Parkers
Adventures with the Parkers An Adventure Series in the National Parks
New for 2010! Peril on Longs Peak and Going to the Sun
Summer vacation has never been this fun!
Join the parkers, an intrepid family of four, as they adventure into the national parks. Twins, Morgan and James, explore the natural wonders of Bryce and Zion, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone. Adventures with the Parkers- a series for kids- is packed with action as well as facts about nature, outdoor safety, environmental issues, and much more.
2008 Finalist One Book Arizona Kid's Selection
2007 Teachers' Choice Award, Learning Magazine
2006 Finalist Best Children's Fiction Category, USABooks.com
Danger in the Narrows: Bryce & Zion, Book 1
Join the Parkers as they embark on their
first national park adventure. Twins, Morgan and James, explore
the natural wonders of Bryce and Zion, journeying among the hoodoos and
sleeping beneath the stars. But the trip takes a turn for the
worse in the treacherous Zion Narrows- can they rescue Dad from a
"My wife and I recently took our 3rd grade daughter on a trip to Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks. We found 2 of the "Parkers" books in the Zion Visitor's Center and got them for our daughter. After she finished the first book, she very excitedly came to her mother and I to tell us about how good it was!!! Very high praise indeed...She also informed us that this author should be one that her school invites to their annual Literacy Festival where the school invites a couple of authors in with their works to speak to the kids. The school principal let me know this is the first time a kid has suggested a particular author. High praise indeed." Amazon Book Review, G. Williams, Sandy, UT
Tail of the Scorpion:
Grand Canyon, Book 2
The Parkers are back for another adventure
in the Grand Canyon. Morgan and James brave a steep twenty-one
mile hike from rim to rim. As they face heatstroke,
exhaustion, and even a run-in with scorpions, they wonder, "Can we make
the grueling climb to the top?"
"I have been talking about hiking the Grand
Canyon with my 9 year old grandson. (His mom did the hike with me when she was
nine) This book is great in it's detail about what adults and youngsters both
see and experience when doing the hike. What children imagine the hike is like
and what actually transpires are not exactly the same. It's not as easy as they
imagine! But the rewards are worth the effort!" Amazon Book Review, C. Murphy
"This is a great book to entertain
children while learning about America's National Parks. The family interaction
within the book is loving and caring." Amazon Book Review, J.S. Sanford, Los
book for older children or for parents to read to their younger children.
Great story, educational value, and visuals!" USABookNews.com
Harrowing Ascent of Half Dome: Yosemite, Book 3
The Parkers hit the trail once again, this
time in Yosemite, one of the country's most popular parks.
In Yosemite, James and Morgan take in the beauty of the sequoia trees,
hike alongside waterfalls and even attempt an ascent of the cables. Will they make it to
the top of the infamous Half Dome?
"This adventure story is filled with interesting information about the parks, pictures, maps, and diagrams that help explain the landscape, climate, and topography of the area. An appealing array of nature sketches and depictions of the Parkers in action also appears throughout." Delia Carruthers, School Library Journal
Eye of the Grizzly: Yellowstone, Book 4
Join the Parkers as they explore the wonders
of America's first national park, Yellowstone. While in
Yellowstone, Morgan and
James marvel over the geysers, thermal pools, and the vast array of
wildlife. But when they come face to face with a grizzly, what
will they do?
"The author came to visit our 8 year old's class (in Nevada) during Reading Week. Our son raved about the book being read, so we bought it. We found the book to be exciting and kept our son's attention all the way through. He enjoyed the descriptions about the animals and the national park. When he was finished, our son said he wanted to visit the park and all the national parks. (It doesn't get better than that!). We then bought all the other books in the series and read them all (Tail of the Scorpion (Grand Canyon), Harrowing Ascent up Half Dome (Yosemite), and Danger in the Narrows (Zion/Bryce). The books weave in themes about the environment, protecting the environment, and how people with disabilities use our parks. Highly recommend this series. We are waiting for the next one to come out!" Amazon Book Review, Barbara Buckley, Las Vegas, NV
"A dramatic family adventure through the only national park equal to its fame: Yellowstone. Visiting burbling geysers and viewing wildlife galore create lots of things for the Parker twins to write about in their journals. But it is their family backpack trip into the backcountry that brings them face to face with Mother Nature and the eyes of a grizzly bear. Great writing by Mr. Graf put me on the edge of my seat." Marsha Holland, literacy coordinator, Garfield County Volunteer Center, Tropic, Utah
of the Tide Pool, Crack of the Glacier: Olympic, Book 5
Join the Parkers as they journey to
Olympic National Park in the Pacific Northwest, where they explore the
tide pools along the coast, hike through Olympic's dense rain forest,
and experience the famed alpine scenery and immense glaciers.
Treacherous mountain terrain could stop them in their tracks.
Could it prove to be ultimately too dangerous?
Runner Rescue: the Great Smoky Mountains, Book 6
With their great-grandfather's
journal as their guide, Morgan and James head east to the most visited
national park in the country: the Great Smoky Mountains. The twins
and their parents backpack twenty-six miles along the Appalachian Trail,
learning the park's unusual history and experiencing its amazing
diversity- spotting both the synchronized fireflies and the world's
largest salamander. But will the adventure end when Morgan comes
down with a mysterious illness?
The Adventures with the Parkers Continue!
Peril on Longs Peak Rocky Mountain National Park, Book 7