I'd love to come speak at your school, church, homeschool group, or other gathering. Below is a list of the topics I typically talk about. To get more detailed information about my author visits and/or to start the process of bringing me to your event, complete this Information Request Form.  

Desire, Choice, Consequence: Shaping a Child’s Character through Story

Audience: Parents, Teachers

At writing seminars everywhere, writing instructors are giving story-writers the same advice: “Ask yourself, ‘What does my character want?’” Why? Because once you know what a character wants, you know what choices he or she is likely to make. Once your character starts making choices, consequences follow. And then a story begins to take shape. When we speak of the other kind of character—an individual’s character or integrity—we’re usually talking about the choices that person makes. A person of character chooses the good over the bad, the better over the good, the best over the better. Those choices are determined by desire, and they lead to consequences. In this talk, Jonathan Rogers discusses the parallels between story development and character development that make story such a valuable tool in shaping a child’s character.

 

Where Stories Come From

Audience: Elementary to High School (also writers of all ages)

In this talk, Jonathan Rogers answers the often-asked question, “Where do you get your ideas?” Sharing stories from his own life, he shows how those stories became the raw material for his fiction. He also discusses how students can become better writers by developing the habits of observation, reading, and storytelling.

 

Imagination and Faith: How Narnia Does Its Work on Us

Audience: High School to Adult

In the Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis challenges us to shed our preconceived notions of what is “real” and open ourselves up to the possibility that our categories aren’t sufficient to make sense of the world in which we live. Lewis uses a fantasy world to talk about the “real” world because it takes imagination to see what’s true and real in this world too. It takes a certain amount of imagination to see that there is something more real, more solid than the world we see around us; but that’s a foundational truth of the Christian faith. It takes imagination to feel the truth of the gospel in our truest selves.

Here Be Dragons: Joy in a World We Could Have Never Guessed

Audience: Middle School to Adult

We live in a world that stirs up more longings than it can satisfy. C.S. Lewis’s name for this inconsolable longing is “Joy.” Joy, according to Lewis, is a clue to the meaning of the universe, for it suggests that we were made for another world where those longing can be fulfilled. In this talk, Jonathan Rogers discusses the importance of Joy in imaginative literature, including his own. He tells of his own experience with Joy, which came in an encounter with a real-world dragon.

 

On the Moral Benefit of Stories

Audience: Parents, Teachers

Books have a unique ability to shape a person’s sympathies—to change what they desire. That’s why it’s so important that we help our children find books that help them to want the right things. A virtuous life is a life of adventure—of facing challenges, standing firm, rescuing the powerless, righting wrongs. A good children’s book dramatizes that adventure and makes it seem like the sort of life that nobody would want to miss out on. It doesn’t just tell the reader what’s right; it helps the reader to want what’s right. In this talk, Jonathan Rogers discusses the moral benefit of story, which goes far beyond “the moral of the story.” 

 

Flannery O’Connor and the Terrible Speed of Mercy

Audience: High School to Adult

Her stories are known for their shocking violence and their seedy, white-trash atmospherics, but Flannery O’Connor led a most devout, well-regulated and conventional life on a Middle Georgia dairy farm. “Many of my ardent admirers would be roundly shocked and disturbed,” O’Connor wrote, “if they realized that everything I believe is thoroughly moral, thoroughly Catholic, and that it is these beliefs that give my work its chief characteristics.” In this talk, Jonathan Rogers explores the paradoxes of Flannery O’Connor’s life and work, in which grace comes not like a gentle rain, but like a thunderstorm, destroying even as it illuminates.