Kimberly Ridley is a science writer and former magazine editor whose debut picture book, The Secret Pool, won the 2013 Lupine Award from the Maine Library Association and a Riverby Award from the John Burroughs Association, among other honors.
Kim’s school programs bring together science and creative nonfiction writing using The Secret Pool as a launching pad. Students will:
- Discover the amazing ecology of vernal pools
- Learn secrets of great writing
- Write their own science-based stories using research and their imaginations
These interactive programs reflect Common Core Standards and help students make new connections and deepen their understanding of the world around us. The following options are available, and Kim suggests beginning with an assembly followed by a workshop.
Assembly: The Secrets of The Secret Pool
This presentation combines a mini-lesson in vernal pool ecology with an inside look at what it takes to create a nonfiction picture book. Kim shows how she turned what she learned about vernal pools into a story, from idea development through research, writing, revision, illustration and publication. Kim also shares secrets of great writing and encourages students in their own writing. (Grades K-8, 45 minutes)
Workshop 1: How to write exciting nonfiction
In this interactive workshop, students play with writing prompts and work with factual material to write their own stories. Using The Secret Pool as a model, Kim guides students through the process of writing a nonfiction story in which they draw on both information and their imaginations. Students have the opportunity to share their writing, learn from each other and celebrate the fact that everyone has a unique voice. (Grades 3 and up, 60 minutes).
Workshop 2: Place-based nature writing
Nature provides an amazing classroom! Using your school grounds or local park, this place-based workshop brings students outside to observe the natural world and learn how to turn their observations into vivid nonfiction writing. Based on The Secret Pool, Kim shares techniques for deep observation, capturing key details, formulating questions and making new connections. Students spend the first part of the workshop outdoors and return indoors to write (Grades 5 & up, 90 minutes).
Workshop 3: Writing and illustrating a mini-story
Kim also co-presents a special workshop with Rebekah Raye, illustrator of The Secret Pool and other books, and an acclaimed artist and educator. Following Kim’s writing workshop, Rebekah guides students in illustrating a scene from the stories they have written. She also shares her process, including inspiration, research, drawing, painting and intepreting text in images. Each student writes and illustrates a mini-story, and students and teachers are encouraged to create an exhibit of their work. (Grades 3 and up, 2 hours, including short break between sessions)
What educators and students say
"Students immediately sense Kim's passion for writing and nature, and her sincere interest in them as people and as learners. She has a very approachable and informative presentation style, takes the time to listen, and responds thoughtfully to their questions. She gives them a memorable and potentially transformational experience that I'm confident will be lasting." --Jan Coates, Executive Director, Island Readers & Writers
"I loved the writing. You gave us good ideas for our stories. I had so much fun. I hope we can do it again."--Xander, Ashley Bryan School, Islesford, Maine
"The way Kim and Rebekah integrate science, writing and art makes their program unique. The fact that an author and illustrator work together is a huge asset. Their teaching is clear, while allowing for each child's creativity. They guide and encourage children with sensitivity and the children were focused and engaged. The feedback I received from children, parents and grandparents was 100 percent positive." --Pat Horton, Youth Services Librarian, Blue Hill Library, Blue Hill Maine
"The visit was a huge hit. The third-graders are still taking about Kim and Rebekah and commenting on how much fun they had. They keep saying, 'are we going to do this again?'" --Meagan Miller, third grade teacher, Vinalhaven Elementary School, Vinalhaven, Maine
Nuts and Bolts
Equipment: Schools need to provide a laptop computer, projector and screen, plus a microphone, table or utility cart and extension cords as required. Kim brings her presentation on an external drive.
Book signings: Kim enjoys meeting students and is happy to sign preordered books after the program or during lunch. Schools wishing to host a personalized book signing can preorder copies of The Secret Pool at a substantial discount directly from Tilbury House Publishers at 800-582-1899 or www.tilburyhouse.com.
Watch the trailer for The Secret Pool
Kim's honorarium is $750 per day for Maine schools and $950 per day for schools elsewhere in New England. In addition, mileage is .55 cents per mile for all school visits, and overnight accommodations are usually required for driving distances of more than 1.5 hours from Brooklin, Maine. Rebekah's honorarium is $750 for Maine schools and $950 for schools elsewhere in New England. Discounts are available for multiple-day visits.
Reviews & Awards for The Secret Pool
"Share with budding naturalists or use as an excellent guide for a woodland walk..." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
- Lupine Award, Maine Library Association, 2013
- Riverby Award for Outstanding Natural History Books for Young People, John Burroughs Association, 2013
- Skipping Stones Honor Award, 2014
- CCBC Choices, Best Children's Books, 2014
- Reading is Fundamental STEAM Collection, 2014
- Best Children's Books, Downeast Magazine, 2014
- Finalist, Maine Literary Awards, 2014