Susan Casey writes about invention in her books, Kids Inventing! and Women Invent!, and demonstrates what both inventors and writers do in her interactive presentations. As a girl she was always curious, loved reading and writing, qualities that later prompted her to take the adventurous step of accepting a job as an au pair for an English family in Ghana, West Africa. While there she visited outdoor markets, watched musicians and dancers in the street, and began writing and photographing what she saw as a way of telling her friends and family about her experiences. Those letters home led her to begin writing non-fiction articles about the world around her on a wide range of topics including inventors, art, oddball events, moviemaking, and construction. Her articles have appeared in publications such as Family Circle, Soap Opera Digest, The Los Angeles Times, and Americana. She has also had a career as a teacher, and to this day continues to split her time between teaching and writing.
Since her books were published, Susan has done many presentations about them at schools, conventions, community organization meetings including the Montana Educator’s Conference, Children’s Literature Festival of the University of Central Missouri, the Houston Forum, the Los Angeles Public Library, Edufest and Confratute. Susan currently lives in Southern California, where she enjoys reading, visiting art museums, going to concerts, playing tennis, and taking photographs.
Women Invent: Two Centuries of Discoveries that Have Shaped Our World
“While history books,” says Casey in her introduction, “depict women as ‘just being around,’ and many books on inventors give little evidence of women’s work, the patent records reveal a different story.” Women, like men, have long invented what they needed, and here are eight information-packed chapters celebrating those inventions. From Harriet Irwin who received the first patent for architectural innovation, to Ann Moore who designed the Snugli baby carrier, to Madam Walker, the first African American woman millionaire, this is a gallery of distinguished women. They include astronauts and farmers, biologists and kids. An inventor’s resource guide includes competitions, camps and programs for young inventors at state and national levels. 1997, Chicago Review Press, $14.95. Ages 9 to 13. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami (Children’s Literature).
Kids Inventing!: A Handbook for Young Inventors
Not only does this book tell amazing stories of successful young inventors, it explains the step-by-step process of how to invent something by one’s self. The reader is asked to brainstorm possible solutions to everyday problems, since that is how most inventions start. Quotes in the margins from kids who have won competitions encourage the reader. The book is organized with a “Table of Contents” and “Appendices” for further reading and useful websites about numerous contests. Risk taking is encouraged because trial and error is necessary. Activities at the end of each chapter are intended to get the reader’s feet wet in the invention process. Most helpful are explicit instructions on how and when to apply for patents and trademarks. This book would be a great preview to a Science Fair, Invention Convention, or simple exercises in problem solving. 2005, John Wiley & Sons, $14.95. Ages 7 to 16. Reviewer: Julie Schneggenburger (Children’s Literature).
Note: Presentations can be a combination of all three topics.
When Susan shows her audiences images of kid inventors and demonstrates their inventions–basketballs, crayon holders, no-spill bowls and walkie-talkies–students realize that inventing can be fun and within their reach. When she interviews kids in the audience and shows tricks she uses in her research for her non-fiction books, then uses their suggestions and sentences to write a story on the spot, students realize that non-fiction writing is also fun and achievable.
Susan’s presentations bring the stories of women inventors of the past two hundred years alive. She shows their images and their inventions and tells of their impact on society and how they overcame obstacles to gain patents or trademarks. Inventors include: Martha Coston, inventor of signal flares used during the Civil War; Madam Walker, inventor of hair care products and the first African American female millionaire; Patsy Sherman, co-inventor of Scotchgard; Bette Graham, creator of Liquid Paper; Sally Fox, developer of naturally colored cotton; and Rose Totino, inventor of Totino’s frozen pizza.
Non-Fiction Writing is Fun and Interesting!
Susan shows images of her magazine articles and uses interactive exercises to demonstrate that research for non-fiction writing requires not only book research but on the spot experiences and personal interviews. She writes a story with the help of the audience and illustrates how story techniques can be used in non-fiction writing.
$300 for the first presentation, $200 for each additional presentation, plus travel and lodging expenses. Susan limits herself to four presentations a day for large groups, plus two classroom, small group sessions, or invention workshops.
To learn more about Susan Casey and her publications please visit www.susancaseybooks.com.