Schools & book festivals
Past appearances include the Hay-on-Wye Festival, Tate Britain, Seven Stories, The Cheltenham Book Festival, The Polka Theatre, Edinburgh Book Festival, The Foyles Summer of Fun, The Polka Theatre Sunday Story Session, The Northern Children's Book Festival, Beverley Book Festival, Niddfest, The Aye Write Festival in Glasgow and many more.
LECTURES AND EXHIBITIONS
I am a visiting lecturer on the MA in Children's Book Illustration at Anglia Ruskin University and taught on the SCBWI Picture Book Retreats. I've given lectures for the AOI, York Foundation Course, Cleveland College of Art and Design and Anglia Ruskin Children's Book Illustration Summer School. Some of the places my work has been exhibited include The Bowes Museum, The Story Museum, Gallery Oldham 'In Pictures' exhibition and the Hartlepool Festival of Illustration.
If you would like me to visit your school, I have made a handy school visit sheet which you can request by email here. It explains what you can expect from my visit, what I will need on the day, and my fee. I have visited many, many schools over the past 15 years, you can read some reviews further down this page.
'Getting an author to visit your school, library or festival is a brilliant way to inspire kids to read and fire up their creativity. I find a lot of kids don’t really understand that the name on a book cover is a real person. (It’s not some sort of box with a button that you push, and out comes a book.) And when they can see right in front of them that a writer or illustrator is a person who walks and talks and laughs and gets excited about stories, and occasionally makes mistakes, they get an inkling of possibilities: Hey, maybe this is something I could do, too!'
This is a quote from Sarah MacIntyre's excellent blog.
HELLO TEACHERS! HERE'S A DOWNLOADABLE 'HOW TO HIDE A LION' TEACHING RESOURCE
My friend Mrs Anderson has been using 'How to Hide a lion' to teach across the KS1 curriculum. Please feel free to download her notes here. I'd love to hear about any activities you have done at school around How to Hide a Lion, or any of my books. Do you know I also wrote 'How to Hide a Lion at School' which is great to read out loud at school.
DOWNLOADABLE COLOURING SHEETS
How to Hide a Lion
The Night Iceberg
Helen's event was fantastic! Children loved being involved in the story telling part, looking for the lion and exercising their creative minds by predicting various outcomes. Helen taught children how to draw a lion in easy to follow steps, allowing the children (and their parents) to have their own lion to hide. Helen also created us a bespoke window in September 2016. The large fully coloured lion adorned our window for longer than originally planned because we just LOVED it (and so did our customers). It was a striking window display that added colour and excitement as both adults and children stopped to admire it and visited the shop to buy a book. Helen's window and event left a long lasting buzz and is still mentioned by many of our customers.
Tereze, Tales On Moon Lane Bookshop, London
'Helen engaged wonderfully with our pupils, providing an entertaining, active workshop. There was lots of fun and laughter and the opportunities for learning were always skilfully related back to her books.'
D Mackenzie, Principal Teacher, George Watson's College Junior School, Edinburgh
'Thank you so much for your visit today. The children were buzzing with enthusiasm afterwards and the staff were full of praise. They loved the rapport you had with the children and really enjoyed your books.'
Catherine Costigan, Appletree Gardens School, Whitley Bay
'Helen created a lovely window for us which none of us want to take out now. Pleased to say too that the book is selling really well on the back of it with people literally stopping as they drive past to come in and buy a copy!'
Pickled Pepper Books, Crouch End, London - after I painted their shop window.
'It was a great pleasure for us to welcome Helen to Seven Stories, the audience were enthralled with her interactive way of telling the story. The children (and some adults) loved the opportunity to get to draw with her too. We hope to see Helen back at Seven Stories very soon!'
Paul Black, Events Officer, Seven Stories, Newcastle
'Cheltenham Festival sent a total rave about you and the event. Even saying how great your family and dog were!!'
My publisher talking about Cheltenham Book Festival
'Fantastic visit to school today from the author / illustrator Helen Stephens!'
Red House School, Norton
'Helen's workshops at The Bowes Museum were fantastic! Not only did she engage the children and their parents with her storytelling, she also sketched her storybook characters in seconds, before the children created their own masterpiece. Brilliant sessions – thank you!'
Amy Bainbridge, Education Co-ordinator, Bowes Museum
'To have an author come and read her book to an assembly of children and work with individual classes was an absolute treat! Helen brought her books to life by allowing the children to participate through dressing up as characters and giving the children the opportunity to create a pop up lion. She willingly answered questions by children, demonstrated how she created her characters and explained her process in writing a book - all extremely helpful for possible future authors! The children felt that they had a celebrity in school for the day! Thank you, Helen.'
M Reilly, Class Teacher, St Bridget's Primary School, Glasgow
'This was a great opportunity for a real author to come to our school and talk to us at assembly. Helen also went from class to class to talk to lots of children and I was her photographer.'
Lewis K, Pupil Y9 St Bridget's Primary School, Glasgow
'I really enjoyed 'Fleabag' and the illustrations because they looked like they were moving and that was because Helen said that she didn't like her drawings to be perfect.'
Lucy J, Pupil Y10 St Bridget's Primary School, Glasgow
'It was really fun and creative when my class got to make pop-up lions with Helen.'
Lewis J, Pupil Y10 St Bridget's Primary School, Glasgow
'We were delighted to welcome author and illustrator Helen Stephens into school yesterday. Helen worked with all the children in school on a range of literacy skills from role play in reception to book making in y4. (We even got a sneak peak at her forthcoming children's book...lucky us!)'
Anne Rutherford, Head Teacher, Tweedmouth West School, Northumberland
'Helen's combination of interactive storytelling and engaging craft inspired the children (and their adults) to make some splendid popup lions based on 'How to Hide a Lion.' The group really enjoyed guessing what Helen was drawing on the flipchart and her ability to switch between activities meant that short attention spans were well-catered for. Thanks Helen, we all had great fun.'
Jill Chambers, Spellbound Project Manager, Northumberland
'The children really enjoyed being involved with telling the story and were really motivated to write their own stories. From a teacher point of view I loved the way you took them through the full planning process and the bubbles worked very well.'
Mrs Summerson, Y4 Teacher, Etherley Lane Primary, Bishop Aukland
'The children really enjoyed the story and we followed it up with a big write about the snowman adventures we had made our picture books about. Some really pleasing results, children very enthusiastic.'
Mrs Jeavons, Y3 Teacher, Etherley Lane Primary, Bishop Aukland
'An inspirational illustrator.'
'Helen has an obvious rapport with children and with her gentle encouragement, the children attending the session produced some outstanding and original contributions to the pop-up book. I think the key was getting the children to draw their own versions of the story, and develop it in their own way, thus giving their imaginations free rein. The pop-up book will have pride of place in the library. We look forward to having Helen back at a future date.'
Kim Herring, Team Librarian, Newbiggin
'Helen's workshops have been truly inspirational for children and their parents. The workshops captured the magic of creating a story and characters and then bringing it all alive imaginatively. What was wonderful is that Helen's calm, clear instruction enabled everyone to actually 'learn' how to draw and to take a work away with them they could all be very proud of. Everyone involved thoroughly enjoyed themselves and the workshops booked-up early. I couldn't recommend Helen more highly. She's also a joy to meet and work with.'
Lara Goodband, Co-Director Beverley Literature Festival
'Thank you, the children and staff enjoyed your visit very much!!'
Sarah Egan, Teacher, West View Primary School, Hartlepool
'Helen was a real inspiration to the children who were all keen to show her their own drawings. Watching Helen draw really brought the books to life and we are all looking forward to her return visit. '
Carol Haughton, Cockerton Library, Darlington
'I thorougly enjoyed your session at the library, the children were mesmerised when you hand drew Fleabag!'
Suzy Youldon, Crown Street Library