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Virtual Visits

For Schools, Libraries,

and Book Clubs

Presentation lengths may be customized to best fit class schedules.   


Virtual Author Presentations

All topics listed may be adapted for a Skype/Zoom/Google Hangout presentation. 60 minutes (45-minute presentation & 15 minutes Q & A session) 

Book Q & A

When your students or book club have finished reading DON’T LOOK BACK, SOLDIER BOY, or SECRET SOLDIERS, Keely would be happy to join them for a lunchtime or after school Skype chat about the book. (15 minutes) 

Please contact Keely for more information about fees and availability HERE

School Visits


Keely is a former English teacher with a Master of Education in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology. She loves stepping back into the classroom, both in-person and virtually, to interact with students and spark their interest in reading, writing, and history.

Keely is excited to be once again scheduling in-person events. Virtual visits, presentations, and writing workshops are also still available for the 2023-2024 school year.


All programs are 60 minutes and include a Q & A segment, an informative, entertaining PowerPoint presentation, and a video message from Achut Deng if DON’T LOOK BACK is discussed or Ricky Richard Anywar if SOLDIER BOY is discussed. A screen/Smartboard, projector, and speakers will be needed for the presentation. For larger groups, a microphone will be needed.

Keely prefers to discuss presentation options with the school a few weeks prior to the scheduled date, so she may tailor the presentation to best supplement the teachers’ curriculum and meet the student's needs.


Sample Presentation Topics



  • “Never Forget Who You Are” – DON’T LOOK BACK: One girl’s journey to reclaim and rebuild all that was taken from her.

  • A Conversation About Collaboration – DON’T LOOK BACK & SOLDIER BOY: The secrets to successful collaborations in storytelling.

  • Composing a Story with Heart – DON’T LOOK BACK, SECRET SOLDIERS, SOLDIER BOY: Comparing the goal of an author and a film score composer to enhance emotion in storytelling.

  • “May I Tell You a Story?” - SOLDIER BOY: How one boy’s story changed thousands of lives.

  • Whose-story? - SECRET SOLDIERS: Discovering History’s Untold Stories

  • Humanizing History – DON’T LOOK BACK, SECRET SOLDIERS, SOLDIER BOY: Bringing Characters to Life in Memoirs and Historical Fiction

  • Moving from Questions to Conversation - DON’T LOOK BACK & SOLDIER BOY: The Art of Interviewing

  • Writing Through Tears – DON’T LOOK BACK & SOLDIER BOY: How to handle with care sensitive and potentially triggering topics in storytelling.

  • Discovering the Heart of your Story: DON’T LOOK BACK, SECRET SOLDIERS, SOLDIER BOY: The emotional pulse at the center of your plot.

  • Push and Pull – DON’T LOOK BACK, SECRET SOLDIERS, & SOLDIER BOY: Exploring external and internal conflicts

  • Even in Fiction, Facts Matter – SOLDIER BOY & SECRET SOLDIERS: Research

  • Multiple POVs – SOLDIER BOY: 2 POVs & 20 years and SECRET SOLDIERS: 4 characters, 4 POVs, 1 mission.

  • Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset in Writing and Life

  • Just Keep Swimming – Overcoming Obstacles and Rejection

Social Studies

  • War on Innocence – DON’T LOOK BACK, SECRET SOLDIERS, SOLDIER BOY: The devastating, lasting impact of war on children with focuses on the Second Sudanese Civil War, WWI, the Ugandan Civil War, and the use of underage soldiers in conflicts throughout history and across the globe.

  • Historical Fiction – SECRET SOLDIERS & SOLDIER BOY: Fact and Fiction

  • Civil War – DON’T LOOK BACK & SOLDIER BOY: Comparing and Contrasting the American, Sudanese, and Ugandan civil conflicts.

  • WWI – SECRET SOLDIERS: Tunnellers and the Battle of Messines

  • WWI – SECRET SOLDIERS: Trench Warfare

Sample Writing Workshop Topics  Examples from all three titles may be used in these workshops

  • The 5Ws and 1H of Stories

  • Brainstorming! Where to Begin and Where to Go

  • Digging for details! Where to find them and how to use them

  • We All Have a Story – The Art of Interviewing

  • Starting Lines and Finish Lines – The Lasting Impact of Powerful First and Last Lines

  • Plotting – How to Craft a Story

  • Making Your Pile of Words - Writing Process – Focus on First Drafts

  • Developing Characters – Making Each Character A STAR!

  • Understanding Your Characters: External and Internal Conflicts

  • Spotlight on Setting – Beyond the Background

  • Show, Don’t Tell - Active vs. Passive Writing

  • Immerse Readers in Your Story - Figurative Language

  • Music to Your Ears – Scoring with Pacing and Word Choice in Storytelling

  • Editing vs. Revising


Students in the 6th grade at Children’s School of Rochester had the opportunity to have several writing workshops with Ms. Hutton! Our students were chosen by the author after she and Ricky Anywar did a book talk in our 6th grade classroom at the Children’s School on “Soldier Boy.”  Ms. Hutton was impressed by our students’ response to their presentation and offered to do several writing workshops for our 6th graders!


Ms. Hutton planned with us, in person, and through continuous email correspondence. She tailored each of her workshops to fit the needs of our students. Ms. Hutton prepared interactive and exciting lessons for the students on each story element. Our students then had the opportunity to participate in engaging writing activities that reinforced each topic. Ms. Hutton used video and images that connected personally with student’s interests and experiences. Part of the workshop gave students the chance to rewrite endings to famous fairytales! Ms. Hutton took the time to read each piece of writing and make comments to each student. No small task as we had more than 45 6th graders participate. It was an honor to have a published author share her craft with our students!


6th Grade Teachers

The Children’s School of Rochester,

School No. 15

Rochester, NY


Keely's video visit to our Literature class was simply amazing! The students were captivated not only by the discussion of her book Soldier Boy but also with her presentation of the writing process. Keely really knows how to connect with students. The students couldn't say enough about what an amazing opportunity they were given to meet and listen to Keely. This will definitely be one of those moments that they, and myself, will never forget! I have heard many authors speak, and I must say, that Keely is one of the most engaging that I have ever had the pleasure to hear!

Holly Nolte

High School English teacher

Bayard, NE


Keely Hutton spoke with my 7th grade ELA classes at Twelve Corners Middle School in Brighton, New York in June 2018.  We were thrilled for the opportunity to have her come and speak with the students about her writing process and the journey she took to compose Soldier Boy.   The students loved her debut novel and could not wait to meet her and learn more about Richard Ricky Anywar's story.   During her visit, she shared her thinking process and how she combined her research and conversations with Ricky together to weave a beautiful story.  Keely shared her writing boards and described the process she goes through in arranging the plot.  She also impressed upon the students the difference between revising and editing.  This advice was most helpful because students have a lot of trouble differentiating between the two in their own writing. I think this was a huge eye-opener for young writers!  They were able to see how an author moved through the process from start to finish.  The students enjoyed her humor and humility in describing the ups and downs of writing her first novel.  Keely's visit was a wonderful way to culminate our unit on Social Injustice.  It was inspiring and enlightening! 

Stacy Cougle, English teacher 

Twelve Corners Middle School

Brighton Central School District


Wayne Central School has had the great privilege to welcome Keely to our school for two author visits over the past year. With each visit, Keely’s main message to the kids was of maintaining determination in any goal, even when it seems as though you’ve failed. The only failure, Keely stresses, is the failure to try again, to get up and keep moving forward. She made that very clear in her presentation where she showed the kids how many “failures” and rejections she experienced before Soldier Boy became such an overwhelming success. Keely knows how to reach children and leave a lasting impression.


Jackie Siwicki, English teacher

Wayne Central School District

T.C. Armstrong Middle School 


I recently had the pleasure of working with Keely Hutton, coordinating and viewing her presentation, at Wayne Middle School.  From the moment we first interacted, I was confident her presentation would be a powerful one for our students. She was easy to plan with, prompt with communication, friendly and flexible--even when faced with our need to reschedule because of a snow day! Our building is working to incorporate a character education program that pairs the importance of a strong character with academic success.  During the month of Keely’s visit, we were focusing on the importance of perseverance. Keely’s story was clearly an appropriate fit for the theme, so we were excited to have her in.


Given she is an author and based on my interactions with her prior to the presentation, I was pretty confident things were going to be great.  Within even the first few minutes of her speaking though, I was still surprised and completely blown away with her poise and articulation of such a difficult concept to express.  Keely had a way of capturing the attention of both students and teachers alike. As a former teacher, she has the skills necessary to not only use her words, but also pacing, visuals, and a delivery technique that was successful in capturing the group and kept them engaged for the entire duration.  Her message was unique and refreshing given the topic could have easily turned cliche without her skillful intertwining of concepts. She welcomed questions and fielded them seamlessly on the spot. Her comments definitely resonated with me personally and is something I’ve heard referenced by students and teachers even weeks following the experience.  We can’t thank Keely enough for her help, her flexibility, and most importantly her powerful message!

Jennifer Yerkes, teacher

Wayne Central School District

T.C. Armstrong Middle School 


"At Wayne Middle School, we recently heard a first-hand narrative of what success looks like in human form. Under a newly revamped character education program, our students were kicking off the month by focusing on the character trait of perseverance. Keely graciously agreed to come keynote this kick-off. In a way only someone as talented as Keely could do, she wove together personal experiences as an author with other incredible stories of perseverance to share a compelling message about what hard work, grit and determination can lead to. Her insight, experience and personal anecdotes were inspiring to students and lead to some great dialogue. Students and staff alike were abuzz after her keynote and have since remarked on how powerful her message was. In what I would deem perseverance personified, Keely's story is moving, powerful, inspiring and one I am incredibly grateful to have shared with our students!"


Derek DeMass, principal

Wayne Central School District

T.C. Armstrong Middle School


Monroe Community College hosted Monroe High School seniors for an informational college day in 2017, which was enhanced greatly by our guest speaker for this audience, Ms. Keely Hutton. Ms. Hutton provided an engaging look at the interplay between growth mindset and grit in attaining a goal. Through her shared experiences in bringing her book, Soldier Boy, to life, we were able to connect the curricular work of mindset and grit with Ms. Hutton’s and Mr. Anywar’s own journeys. Ms. Hutton’s materials and discussion greatly added to students’ personal perceptions about themselves and their journeys through education. Autographed class copies of Soldier Boy were in high demand after this event!


Meghan Glaser

ESOL/TRS Instructor

Monroe Community College


Through an informative and transformational visit by author Keely Hutton and advocate Ricky Richard Anwar in 2018, I witnessed a realization of part of our Monroe Community college mission to build global engagement and understanding within our community of learners. We were fortunate to welcome these individuals to our campus to share their life experiences: that of a former child soldier in a country in throes of civil war, and that of an up-and-coming author who had taken on the monumental task of telling this story in the most forthright, candid, and caring way. Our community is enriched by the generosity of Mr. Anywar’s and Mrs. Hutton’s sharing of their stories, as this opportunity serves to widen the lens of the MCC audience to look more globally at the life experiences of others outside of our own personal frame of reference.


Meghan Glaser

ESOL/TRS Instructor

Monroe Community College

"I have directed a college reading series that has brought three authors a semester to our campus for the past ten years.  Keely Hutton recently spoke for us and her presentation was one of the most compelling and well-organized in our history.  Her talk was very accessible to our students and covered not only the book material but also delved into an interesting and articulate look at the writing process.  She has an amiable and energetic presence that our audience responded very well to, and we look forward to hosting her again for future publications."  


Phil LaMarche

Associate Professor of English and Humanities and Director of the Living Writers Series

SUNY Canton

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