School Author Visits for “Dumplings Mean Family”

One of our first ZOOM visits when many schools were still closed to outside visitors.

The book was the #1 New Release in multiple categories on Amazon!

What a joy to get to share with so many students!

Getting to talk with the kiddos individually at the end of sessions has been so sweet!

This past year has been pretty incredible with author visits. For those of you who don’t know, I wrote a children’s book as a “Covid lockdown” project called Dumplings Mean Family. It’s about our family’s adoption story, and my oldest daughter, Rinnah, who is an illustrator, did all the art for it. It was such an amazing project to work on with her! But it was still a leap of faith because we didn’t know how it would go. This is a new kind of project for me, and we had no idea if it would be successful, especially with all the changes due to Covid.

I asked my local school if they would let me come and do an author visit with it to get feedback and see if the librarians and teachers thought this would be useful. I also asked for feedback on the curriculum and subject matter. I wanted to be very sensitive because adoption and cultural themes can both be difficult to navigate. The response was overwhelming! The kids went crazy for the book, and the educator feedback was wonderful. They started sharing and so did we, and I have been able to present now at over 100 schools to more than 30,000 students which is absolutely incredible!

At this point, the curriculum has been honed and feels really natural and fun. The kids LOVE it. I share about writing and the creative process, then about our family story, and then we do the kids’ favorite section which is about Chinese culture and what our youngest kids were used to when they were living in China. Finally I teach a little Chinese and then take questions, and the kids always have amazing questions! It’s my favorite part.

I think what I love the most is watching kids connect with the content. It points to kindness and to welcoming and caring about people who aren’t exactly the same which is such an important lesson. I also love seeing kids who are not normally represented seeing themselves in the book. I hear regularly from kiddos who have been adopted, or who make dumplings at their own home, or who have experienced culture shock that they see themselves in the book, and they tell me their “connections.” I have had so many wonderful, sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking interactions.

“Thank you for the book. I didn’t know anyone else in third grade got adopted. I’m in third grade, and I’m being adopted next week. This is my seventh family, and this one is so nice to me.”

“I loved hearing about dumplings in your book! We make dumplings at my house too, but they are a little different. We come from Nepal.”

“One of my friends didn’t speak English when they came to my school. You are right! It didn’t matter at all, we just played together until he could!”

And one of my favorites. I had just told an audience of about 400 kids sitting in a gym that I adopted my youngest three children from China. I showed them the cover and said, “Here they are!” A kindegartener in the front row yelled at the top of his voice, “But those are cartoons!” LOLOL. This is when it’s hard to keep a straight face, friends.

Do you know of a school who could use an author visit? I’d love to come! For more information, check out my website for the book,

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