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Visits to your program or school


For seven years I worked as an early literacy home visitor, and now I volunteer as a visiting author in classrooms in two local school districts. I love doing events with young children in schools or in programs with their families. During these events, I also share information with teachers and parents about early language and math development, and how my Small Talk Books® can be used to build early language and math skills.

Small Talk Books® programs for ages 0-6 years:

  • Books and Crafts Interactive reading followed by book extension craft activities such as making sock puppets for Red Socks, pet fish drawings for A Fish to Feed, play dough from scratch for Cake Day, story character paper dolls for Rosa’s Very Big Job and more. Early language development tips for the adults.
  • Math in Stories! Explore math through story, song, and craft with Banana for Two, Clean Up, Up, Up! or Cake Day. Early math topics include quantities of one and two; spatial relations; sequencing/measurement/capacity. Early math development tips for the adults.
  • Author Show & Tell The Secrets of Making a Picture Book, a look at how a picture book is created in book publishing, using my book Rosa’s Very Big Job. (Hint: Lots of teamwork is required!)
  • NEW–BOOKS + BANJO! Reading and sing-along of new and familiar songs with banjo accompaniment for each of my Small Talk Books®. Includes an opportunity to strum a real banjo with Mr. Malcolm! 


If you are interested in a real or virtual visit, please contact me.

My Event Scrapbook

My first bookstore reading

“We were very pleased to host Ellen Mayer at the Harvard Coop today — her books A Fish to Feed and Red Socks were a big hit with our storytime crowd, in no small part thanks to her lively reading and experience engaging with a (very) young audience. We look forward to her forthcoming books!” — Hannah, Children’s Book Department at The Harvard Coop, Cambridge, MA, August 22, 2015


Books + Banjo in the schools

Mr. Malcolm and I enjoyed our residencies at different Cambridge Public Schools during the 2018-2020 school years.

The Children’s House and Special Start classrooms at the John M. Tobin Montessori School in Cambridge, MA have had the pleasure of hosting Ellen Mayer and Malcolm Pittman throughout the school year in our classrooms with children ages 3-6 years. Ellen’s engaging reading of her picture books, joyful presence and enthusiasm for children is enjoyed by all ages. Malcolm’s singing and playing of the banjo are a perfect combination to spread the excitement of literacy and music! We always look forward to their next visit!” —Megan Cahill, Children’s House Teacher, March 2019

Museum exhibit

I was honored to have my book Cake Day selected in 2019 for the 24th Annual Family Trees: A Celebration of Childrens Literature exhibit at the Concord Museum, Concord, MA. 

Visits to the library

Library visits in 2019 included a Special Guest storytime at the Cook Memorial Library, Tamworth, NH, and a STEAM storytime series and bilingual launch of the Chinese/English edition of Banana for Two, both at the Cambridge Public Library, Cambridge, MA.

Decorating cakes on a school visit

“Our Primary Multiage students were visited by children’s book author, Ellen Mayer. After reading two of her wonderful books to the students, Rosa’s Very Big Job and Cake Day, she introduced an art activity to the group based on one of her books. The students were excited and quite engaged in the activity. Thank you Ellen for visiting our school.” – K. Ryan, art teacher/librarian at Sandwich Central School, Sandwich, NH, September 15, 2016

A national early literacy campaign uses Red Socks

Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of the Clinton Foundation and the Opportunity Institute, teams up with a host of partners to turn “wash time” into “talk time” at Laundromats in underserved communities across the country to build early literacy – and the campaign uses Red Socks!  Illustrator Ying-Hwa Hu and I had a great time reading with families at the Laundry Project’s Free Laundry Day in Tampa, FL on August 13, 2016. We also made sock puppets! Click here to learn more about the “Wash Time is Talk Time” campaign.

Watch Quack Quack, THE MOVIE!


(With special thanks to
Cornelius Van Wright)

Watch a video about our visit!


Talks to parents and grandparents

Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA hosted me in two presentations. The first, “What can you do with a board book? Some ways to share a board book with infants and young toddlers (0-2 years)” was part of a program for new parents in August, 2015, “Beyond Goodnight Moon: Why, how, and what to read to your baby.” 

The second presentation in July, 2016 was on the topic “Tips for Grandparents on how to build the language of infants and young children.

Talks to providers

“Author Ellen Mayer visited ReadBoston today and talked to Parent Literacy Leaders about writing and publishing children’s books. Thanks for the wonderful presentation!” –Anna Adler, Senior Manager of Literacy Programs, ReadBoston, Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, Boston, MA, March 16, 2017


“Thank you so very much for sharing your wisdom and experience with staff and parent groups in your presentations on early language development using your Small Talk Books® picture books. You were a ‘spot on’ visitor to our Minute Man Arc Early Intervention Program last week. You truly are enlightening and inspirational.” – Gale Ann Merle, Staff Parent Group Leader, Minute Man Arc Early Intervention, Concord, MA, November 2, 2016


I visited the Home-Based Early Childhood Education Program in Cambridge, MA, where I used to be an Early Literacy Specialist, to share my new story Banana for Two. I talked with staff about the early math that’s modeled in the book, and how toddlers learn about amounts of one and two through hands-on activities, in February 2018.

Visiting children’s book author

As a visiting children’s author in the Somerville Public Schools, I shared stories with the Somerville Family Learning Collaborative’s playgroups and joined their End-of-Year Celebrations 2017-2018. I also launched my bilingual El gran trabajo de Rosa/Rosa’s Very Big Job and visited with first grade classes as part of the Albert F. Argenziano School’s Literacy Month in 2019.

STEM stories and activities

At the Cambridge Science Festival in 2018, nonprofit STEM education organization TERC hosted a bilingual early math story time for young children that featured my book Banana para dos/Banana for Two, developed as part of their Storytelling Math project. Audrey Martinez-Gudapakkam and I shared the story in Spanish and English, we shopped for groceries and talked about quantities of one and two, and I signed books with the help of two bunnies.

Book signing bashes

With a crew of fellow kidlit authors, I signed books at The Writers’ Loft Holiday Bazaar and Book Fair 2015-2018, at Jeff Kinney’s An Unlikely Story Bookstore and Café in Plainville, MA.

Afterschool projects

“Harvard researcher and children’s book author, Ellen Mayer, visited the Center last week! She read Cake Day, and afterwards we had a blast coloring our own cake creations inspired by the story! We thank Ms. Mayer for spending time at the CCC and sharing her wonderful books with us.” – Annie-Eliza Stevens, Cambridge Community Center newsletter, April 4, 2017

Playing with a playgroup

“A wonderful morning with our visiting author, educator Ellen Mayer. She shared activities and her two board books with us at our last Shutesbury Playgroup for the school year. The activities showed us ways to have fun with language!” – Gillian Budine, Community Network for Children Program Coordinator, at Shutesbury, MA playgroup, June 3, 2016

Launch of new picture books

“We recently hosted the launch for Ellen Mayer’s new books, Cake Day and Rosa’s Very Big Job. It was a great event for the kids and adults alike. Ellen really engaged the kids by asking them to act out the motions in the book, such as stirring and shaking, while the characters made a cake. What a fun way to spend the morning, reading with kids.”— Kim, Children’s Book Department at The Harvard Coop, Cambridge, MA, September 10, 2016


Stir, Shake, Wait.

photos by Joseph Borkowski

Fun and learning in a family childcare

“As an early childhood educator and a parent I am excited about Small Talk Books®. Not only do the children in my childcare love all four books, but the books provide modeling within the stories and useful information on building language skills in young children for both the parents of the children in my childcare and myself! The series is appropriate for children across a range of ages – I serve children from 3 months to 5 years and there is a book for everyone.” – Andy Lesser-Gonzalez, Owner & Lead Teacher at Panda’s Playcare Family Childcare in Roslindale, MA

Fairy sightings and other reading adventures

At Barnes & Noble, Burlington, MA readings 2017-2018, we enjoy peek-a-boo and the arrival of a fairy.

Conference fun

At the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter meeting in Boston, MA in January, 2016 illustrator Ying-Hwa Hu and I signed copies of our book Red Socks and got to hang out with Star Bright Books’ Jiyoung Ahn and Deborah Shine.


And of course we wore our red socks!

At the Texas Library Association Annual Conference in Austin, Texas in April, 2019 I had the opportunity to chat with library professionals and introduce my new early math board books.

And at the Massachusetts Reach Out and Read Conference in May, 2015 I met Clifford, the Big Red Dog.

Photo by LaDawnna Sparks

Photo by LaDawnna Sparks