school visit Tag

Modesto Jr. College- Speaking/ Visit

First off, I need to give major props and respect to Dr Theresa Rojas who not only invited me to come speak to teachers, administrators, and students at MODESTO JUNIOR COLLEGE but is one of the nicest most bad ass Chicana’s I know. She organizes the annual Latinx Comix & Arts Festival in Modesto at MJC. If you’re in the Bay, LA, Northern Cali, or central California go check this event out. Here’s a link

Ok, I got up super early and made the trek from Oakland to Modesto which if you’re not from here takes about 2 hours. It was a super rainy weekend but I was prepared for it and we need as much rain as we can get.

When I arrived English professor Dan Schmidt received me and took me around. Dan was super nice and gave me the leg of the town, took me to lunch with other staff members, and guided me around since I made multiple presentations. This poster was up everywhere around the campus. Fresh Juice came out in the summer so it was nice to let folks know about that early.

Here’s a photo I took with one of the students. I wish I had take a photo of the first presentation with allllll of the students, but it was in a room full of young and older college students so I got talk to them about:

  • A career in the arts
  • Children’s Book Illustration and writing
  • Diversity in literature
  • Making a living as an artist
  • Social Justice art

I cannot remember everyone’s name for the life of me but it was so nice to sit and have lunch with staff from the school. These adults care a lot about their students and their community!

After a dinner I was brought back to MJC where I was then introduced to a room full of professors, teachers, students, and community members.

So here I gave a presentation about :

  • Children’s Book Publishing
  • Creative writing and illustration process
  • My journey in the arts and kid lit
  • Ethnic Studies, Social Justice, Mural art
  • My first bilingual book Furqan’s First Flat Top/ El Primer Corte de Mesita de Furqan
  • I talked a bit about visiting young children to read to them
  • And I then answered questions from the audience

After the questions, I tabled a bit selling some of my prints, books, and showing them some examples of the type of stuff I bring with me to do workshops for teens such as zines and art books. Dr Rojas helped me handle the merch table because hella folks actually supported, I was not expecting that so I didn’t bring allll my stuff.

And here’s a photo of Dr Theresa Rojas who made it possible for me to visit the college and speak to so many about what I do and see out there. She’s super awesome, and here’s a few words she had to say….

“We have enjoyed having Robert join us at Modesto Junior College no fewer than THREE times so far—for tabling at the Latinx Comic Arts Festival, to speak to a children’s literature course, and as our Visiting Author for the year. That speaks volumes about the impact of his work and our fondness for the way he connects to his audience.”

~Dr. Theresa Rojas
Professor of Ethnic Studies and English
Director of the Latinx Comic Arts Festival
Modesto Junior College

That’s it fam, I really loved speaking to future teachers, early childhood educators, and students. Over the years I’ve read to thousands of young people and increasingly I’m getting the chance to talk to colleges. Here is a link to check out MJC and definitely check out their annual Latinx Comics & Arts Festival.

Dig this? Check out my visit to the Texas Book Festival

Berkeley Public Library visit

Last Fall in 2023 I got the distinct pleasure of reading my latest book “Fresh Juice/ Jugo Fresco” to a big group of students at the South Berkeley Public Library branch. Here are some photos from that day.

Giving a reading to children is kind of like a performance. You know what story you’re going to read, and since Fresh Juice is still new I have read it out loud to kids only about 15-20 times. For some of my other books I’ve read them 100’s of times; each time trying to emphasize a different part depending on the group I’m reading to. Sometimes I read in English, sometimes Spanish. In this photo I’m trying to gt the kids to talk back to me rather than just listen. Folks in the church used to say “call and response”.

Something I love to do when I visit with kids beyond reading them the actual story is to share some of the behind the scenes, the outtakes, and the practice that goes into making these books that take minutes to read and sometimes years to make. I love sharing drawings and paintings from the process, and I LOVE sharing my sketchbook with them. Younger kids and even some of the older ones love seeing drawings, paintings, sketches, etc because whether its a song, a dance, a video game, or a picture book its fun to see how artists do the thing.

I’ve kept a sketchbook since I was a child. I love sharing them so much that I self published a book full of my drawings, paintings, sketches, etc that have helped me develop stories, share knowledge, or just develop as an artist. You can cop that here.

BIG shout out to Juan Rigo (Adult w/ the hat on the left) who is a librarian at Berkley Public Library who I’ve known since Berkeley high school! He told me he was gonna bring me to the library to read to the babies and sho nuff did. Thx Juan! And BIG shout out to Maestra Arroyo sitting next to Juan who not only brought her class but a fellow teacher’s class to see me read. All photos taken by Jessica and Juan!

SEE? When you see librarians and teachers give them props, words of affirmation, and support when they are in labor struggles for better pay. If it weren’t for these two, my story would not have reached these kids that day. I take that honor seriously and am forever grateful for all of you doing your best to cheer on and game up the next generation with knowlege and love.

Dig this? Check out this visit to McBee Elementary and the Texas Book Festival or Bella Vista Elementary in Oakland.

If you havent already, please review “Fresh Juice/ Jugo Fresco” wherever you review books. Request it at your local library or bookstore no matter where you live.

Photos from the Texas Book Fest 2023

I had a great time at the Texas Book Festival this past November. BIG shout out to my publisher Lee & low, Reading Rockets, and the Book Festival for having me. I have done many local events such as library readings, class visits, co-producing a book fair, vending at book fairs, etc but have never been to such a huge book fair and met so many folks in the business. I met people I’ve admired for a ong time and some new folks who are awesome storytellers!!

Reading Rockets: School visit w/ McBee Elementary

Here I am talking to a gang of mostly Latino students at the school about “Fresh Juice/ Jugo Fresco” in Spanish. This might be the biggest audience I read to in 2023, second only to a reading I did w/ Maestra Jill Guerra for our book “We Are Yoga”. My reading was rough because of technival difficulties but the kids and the school still rocked with me thankfully.

After the reading I was able to hand each and every student (probably over 100) a copy of my book in Spanish or English. This was made possible because of Reading Rockets, the school, and my publisher. These types of events are important because we brought the stories to the students. More below….

This writer and Cubana Adriana Cuevas who talked about her career and her latest book “The Ghosts of Rancho Espanto”.

This is bro Andy J Pizza who I knew as a podcaster from the show “Creative Pep Talk” and he was sharing his book “Invisible Things”.


Authors Brunch: At a TBF board member’s home

Ok, I wish I had taken more photos. I was too blown away by the home of this board member who hosted us. I got to meet some people who I’ve admired for years and met some new folks; authors, organizers of the event, and more. Particularly I remember meeting Michelle Hernandez who is an organizer for the Texas Book Festival, Becky Gomez who is an educator and artist who also volunteers at the fest. Authors? Man I saw old friends like Michael Genhart from the Bay and Shadra Strickland from Baltimore. But also I met Vashite Harrison, Don Tate, Derrick Barnes, David Bowles, and Minh Le. I also met some new folks like Emma The Otheguy, Pedro Martin, Christina Soontornvat, Ana Siqueira, Jamar Perry, Anne Wynter, Cathery, Mohit, and moreeeeee.

Foto from Michelle Hernandez

Black Pearl Books – Black Owned bookstore in Austin, TX

The owners of Black Pearl Books reached out to me and several Black authors in an effort to give us a space to convene and just to build community. I didn’t know about the store before, but I do now and I’m so glad I went because I got to chop it up with Jerome Pumphrey, Anne Winter, and Vashite Harrison. I also got to walk around this beautiful story which did an excellent job of celebrating Black authors. If you’re ever in Austin, go support them!


City

Big shout out to Cathery Yeh and her husband who drove me around from hotel to reading to brunch and around the city. They are a family from Cali who were based in Austin now. Cathery also took most of the photos of me reading for Reading Rockets.

They wanted to see a mural I had painted with the Trust Your Struggle Collective back in 2008. The mural has been damaged but the historic business it was painted for, the Victory Grill is still standing!

Here are some photos from the mural, around my hotel, and around the downtown area.


Texas Book Festival

I started my reading that day with a dedication to brother Damion Hunter (Megah Brown) , who was my friend and my barber. He passed away in 2023 suddenly and left behind a wife and family. I met Damion through recommendation around 2013 or 2014 and he cut my hair and that of my son’s for many years. Our families hung out together beyond the barbershop and I like so many were deeply saddened by his passing. So I wore a tshirt with the name of his barbershop that day intentionally. When I first self published Furqan’s First Flat Top in 2016 I asked my good friend Eli to do a book trailer sharing the book and me getting a flat top. The brother cutting my hair in this video was Damion. Rest in peace.

This was me reading during my session. There were not a lot of folks there as I am still relatively brand new to the kids book world outside of the Bay, but it was fun. Claudia Guadalupe Martinez took these photos of me 🙂

Ok dig this, I got to listen to a master class in picture book reading, performing, and improvising. Ive been reading to students for over a decade just to get here but it was really awesome listening to how these authors, illustrators, and storytellers did it.

From Top to bottom, left to right: Roda Ahmed & Charnaie Gordon reading Etta Extraordinaire, Juana Medina – Elina Rides, Panel w/ Celia Perez and Aida Salazar, Ana Siqueira-La Supercapa de Abuela, Shadra Strickland- Jump In, Emma Otheguy-Too Many Tia’s, Minh Le-Real to Me, Anne Wynter-Nell Plants a Tree, Vashtie Harrison- BIG, Don Tate-Jerry Changed the Game, Magdalena Mora & Claudia Guadalupe Martinez-Still Dreaming, Nikkolas Smith-The Artivist

This was dope moment. This is me with Don Tate. Thee Don Tate!! Don is an OG who has been working as an illustrator and author since the early 2000’s I believe. I remember seeing Ron’s Big Mission, It Jes Happened, and so many others and being inspired. Don was kind enough to take a photo with me and I felt honored!


Protest for Palestine

On the last day of the Book Fair there was a protest and march scheduled to be held at the state capitol, which coincidentally was a block away from the fair. There was zero mention of Palestine or the protest by the fair which I was unfortunately not surprised by. Nonetheless I had to be there. I have been going to and attending protests my entire life. That isnt a cool point, or a brag. It is a sad reality that the struggle for freedom, ciivil and human rights here in the US and abroad continues. This person wearing a cowboy hat as he rocked a keffiyeh and held a palestinian flag caught my eye. Had no idea there were Palestinian cowboys but I was happy to see it.

I took these photos as I arrived and at first there were 1000, then 5k, then 10k. By the time I watched footage of it later that day there was at least 50k people in Austin Texas protesting/marching. See footage of that here.

Saw this family and had to snap a photo of them:)

This!!!! I loved seeing this sign because although there was a HUGE Palestinian and Arab population there, tons of Latinos, Black folks, White, and Asian people where there in solidarity. After the march, I headed back to the Bay.

I want to give a shout out to Shaughnessy Miller and Jenny Choy at Lee & Low Books, Michelle Hernandez and all the staff at the Texas Book Festival, Cathery and her husband for the rides, all the volunteers who gave me and other authors rides, Jeannie Moody at McBee Elementary, the board member who hosted us for lunch, etc. That’s it folks, I hope you enjoyed these photos.

Dig this? Check out these photos from my trip to Columbus Ohio for the SOL Con.

School Visit – Black Pine Circle

Another school visit! This month I got a chance to visit a k-5 school in Berkeley California called “Black Pine Circle” in West Berkeley. I’ve visited a bunch of schools recently and this is one of them. These photos were taken by one of the teachers at the school.
Whenever I get a chance, I show the kids a bit about what I do beyond kids books and what made me want to make them.
This group of kids had some great questions and comments for me and it was fun to visit, meet teachers and the Black Pine Circle staff. I hope to get back there again sometime in the future.
Dig this? Check out some other schools/libraries I’ve visited:
Walden School – Berkeley, CA
Bella Vista Elementary– Oakland, CA
Weinland Elementary– Columbus, OH
Here are some more photos by my friend Kanoe!

School Visit – The Walden School in Berkeley, CA

Recently I got the chance to speak with students and staff from “Walden School” in Berkeley CA. I had a great time sharing Furqan’s First Flat Top with them, my Art of Rob book, and lots about my work in kids books. They had great questions as kids and adults always do so it was fun. Check out some photos!
These photos were taken by Gina Centanni 🙂
Dig this? Check out some photos from a visit I did with Prospect Sierra in Berkeley as well.

Speaking w/ Prospect Sierra @ Pegasus Books

Yo, had a chance to speak and read to a bunch of families of the Prospect Sierra School in Berkeley California at Pegasus Books in support of a fundraiser for the school. This was only the second time I’ve presented about my work in relation to my art book “Art of Rob” and it was well received. Lots of young ones copped the book and I got to do some doodles in their books.
Some of the topics we discussed in this presentation were:
  • The power of representation in kid lit and media
  • Literacy and the path to reading for fun
  • My art, career timeline, family, and art inspiration
  • Diverse Books, self publishing, and the publishing world
  • Social justice movements, activism, and art
Pegasus books is an old bookstore based in Berkeley and Oakland. The Solano store has a huge selection of diverse kids books and I’m always like a kid in a candy store when I’m there. Prospect Sierra is an independent or private school in El Cerrito California. I have been doing school visits as a storyteller since 2012 and I worked as an arts teacher from 2002-2010. I don’t miss being a teacher, but I do love talking to young people!
Dig this? I’ve been presenting to, reading to, and speaking with young people in presentations like these for more than a decade. Check out some photos from a public school reading at Bella Vista in Oakland, or Woodland Elementary in Oakland.
Also, here’s is a link to an interview I did for Rightnowish on KQED.
Photos by Prospect Sierra

Fotos from bella vista reading

Two weeks ago I read at a local Oakland school called Bella Vista, and here are some photos from the reading which had over 100 kids, parents and teachers. Photo credit.
This was a tough one because the crowd was big so I had a mic and walked around with a student to show the kids the pages of the book in between reading. Since 2012 I’ve done 1-10 school, library, or event readings with my books every year. Sometimes by myself and sometimes with another author.
I’ve spoken to pre school, elementary, high school, and college students. If you’d like me to come speak to your students give me a holler.
Dig this? Check out this visit to Columbus Ohio where I tabled at SOL Con and read to a local school. LINK

Reading at Cesar Chavez Elementary- Davis CA

 I wish I could go back to reading at schools! Hopefully again in the future. I was invited by author and friend Justine Villanueva (Jack & Agyu) to come read at this school. I read to six classes and as always it was lots of fun. I handed out book plates to all the students and then they asked me for my signature. They had lots of funny questions.
Dig this? Check out this reading at Woodland Elementary in Oakland

Ohio School Visit + Sol Con- Photos

Recently I went out to Columbus Ohio to attend the SOL Con at Ohio State University and to read to some children at Weinland Park Elementary school out there. Here are some photos from my trip. The photo above is from an apartment area I saw. I really dug the architecture. All in all, it was a great experience. Professor Katlin Marisol Sweeney along with Prof Frederick Luis Aldama organized so much of SOL CON and it was great to meet them. All the exhibitors and folks I met were super cool. I took most of the photos but a few are from the SOL Con.
The day of the con
One of the huge buildings
I did a school visit and reading while I was there. This is the school library at Weinland Elementary before the children arrived. I had a lot of fun meeting the principal Dr. Robinson, all the school staff and Dionne Custer from the Wexner Center for the Arts which I also visited while there. It was really great to meet the students, read them my book, show them artwork, answer their questions, and to talk to them about art and stories. The school purchased copies of my book Furqan’s First Flat Top for many of the classrooms there.
Walking around the city from my hotel to leaving. Its always fun to walk around a city. I wish I’d had the time to see more but my trip was super short.
After visiting the Wexner Center for the Arts I created some video tutorials for them the following year during the start of the pandemic. Watch those HERE.
Entrance
Prof Aldama & Jaime Hernandez
Dig this? Check out my visit to the Latino Comics Expo in Modesto California, my reading at Woodland Elementary in Oakland, or this visit to Cesar Chavez Elementary in Davis, CA.

Sausal Creek 9- Reading at Mills K-5

Here’s a shot of me and author Melissa Reyes reading at Mills Elementary school. We were invited by a fellow teacher and had a blast talking to the kids about the book, Oakland history, and nature. The kids actually were taken on a field trip to Sausal Creek in Dimond Park so they had lots of questions and comments. Follow Mills on Instagram for more photos.
Melissa Reyes also has a website for her healing, doula, and kids books work called Remedios!
Dig this? check out this throwback to reading to a bunch of kids at Woodland Elementary in Oakland