Jill Bryant spent her fabulous childhood in Elora and Eden Mills, Ontario — climbing trees, building forts, and riding a unicycle. In grade 3, she decided she wanted to be a lumberjack. Working outdoors, rolling logs in the water, looked like an awesome job for an active kid.
When she wasn’t playing outside, Jill read voraciously. She adored Alligator Pie by Dennis Lee and Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. She wrote nonsense poems mimicking the style of Lewis Carol’s poem Jabberwocky. Jill was a big fan of books by Guelph, Ontario author Jean Little and P.E.I.’s beloved Lucy Maud Montgomery.
Drama became a venue that allowed normally quiet Jill to surprise her teachers. On stage, she would shout, yell, and act very bold. In grade five, she played mean and grumpy Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. Teachers kept choosing Jill’s stories to print in the school’s newsletter. At first this caused her some embarrassment — why me? — but in time Jill realized that writing was a great skill and something she enjoyed.
At university, Jill studied English literature and drama. After earning an arts degree, she set off for Europe. Jill and her travel partner travelled by car, bus, and train from England to India, recording their adventures in journal entries and detailed letters. Ten months later, the pair continued backpacking through parts of Southeast Asia, before spending a year teaching English in Japan.
Jill established a career as an editor, but the lure of writing was strong. It wasn’t long before she started writing books for children whenever she could squeeze in some time. Jill is the author of 16 non-fiction books, including Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs, Dazzling Women Designers, Amazing Women Athletes — all from The Women’s Hall of Fame series. Jill has also written several activity books including Backyard Circus, Making Shadow Puppets, and Sew Your Own Bean Bag Friends.
She was based in Nova Scotia when some of her early books were published. Then, after several years living and working abroad, in the U.S., England, and Germany, Jill settled in Kingston, Ontario with her husband and two daughters.
Her advice to kids is: “Be bold. Be adventurous. Find your passion and go for it!”
Jill’s presentations draw upon her three books in The Women’s Hall of Fame series, Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs, Dazzling Women Designers, and Amazing Women Athletes, plus her activity book Backyard Circus. As both a writer and an editor, Jill often integrates her perspective of these two vital aspects of book publishing into her talks. All presentations encourage active student participation. Each session includes a short Q&A segment. With advanced notice, Jill can alter specific presentations to suit a broader range of grades. Please inform Jill of students with special needs or limited English language skills, prior to the date, so that she can accommodate their learning styles.
Kindergarten to Grade 3: Backyard Circus [30 – 45 min]
Grades 4 – 6: Dig, Dig, Dig! [50 min]
Grades 7 – 8: Get Real [50 – 60 min]
High School: Girl Power [50 – 60 min]
Book List / Discography:
Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs (Second Story Press, 2013).
Literacy Series Books:
Dazzling Women Designers
Amazing Women Athletes
Making Shadow Puppets
Sew Your Own Bean Bag Friends
Praise for Jill Bryant:
"Jill is upbeat, bubbly, creative, approachable, easy going, and flexible; these are all imperative traits to have when working in partnership with busy schools and elementary students."
- J. Le Clair (Kingston, ON)
"Her passion for the subject came through and inspired the students to think about the ideas. Using a PowerPoint presentation, she spoke about her book, Dazzling Women Designers, and the visuals illustrated well what she was teaching. Jill did many things to get the students involved in her presentation."
- H. Blokland, (Williamsburg, ON)
"The book talk was active and inclusive to all the various learning styles in my classroom...[It] was fun, educational, and left a lasting impression on my students."
- K. Lamarche (Kingston, ON)
"The students loved the interaction and couldn't wait to volunteer for such things as, the tightrope, tell a joke, or dress up as clowns. ... Jill has an ability to promote such positive and exciting energy while presenting."
- B. Powell (Lake Fletcher, NS)
Touring In: Alberta
Ideal Audience Size
Maximum Audience Size
Most presentations require a data projector with VGA video cable (to connect to a lap top) to display some PowerPoint slides. Students in Grades 4 and up should come with a notebook or paper and pencil.
For the Backyard Circus presentation, I require a room with enough space to allow for a "performing area." A library is often ideal. Equipment required includes:
School Reading Fee:$150.00 per presentation
Public Reading Fee:$250.00 per presentation
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