Meet the Author: It's easier than ever!
Choosing an Author and Starting the Author Study
As a first step, you’ll want to check out a page devoted to books and authors from the literacy experts at Reading Rockets. (You can find it under the Teacher tab.) One resource you’ll find is a fabulous author study toolkit that explains the rationale for doing an author study, how to choose an author, how to help students read and respond to the author’s books, and what to do for culminating projects. It lists dozens of ideas for author studies, including many links to online resources and bibliographies. The entire toolkit is available as a pdf download here.
The Skype an Author Network is an essential tool as well. There you can access a directory of authors who are willing to collaborate with teachers via Skype. You can search by author name, keyword, or genre. A page for each author includes a brief biography, link to the author’s personal website, presentation possibilities, target audience, and availability. Any special guidelines or prerequisites are listed along with author contact information. Additionally, you can read about other teachers’ successful Skype visits here and contribute your class experience to the network once you’ve completed an author visit.
Initiate contact with your author of choice by phone or email. Be sure to identify yourself, what you teach, and what you’d like to accomplish with your virtual visit.
The simplest way to get started, according to Kate Messner (author, former middle school teacher, and ardent advocate for Skyping), is to read a book with your class, book club, or after school group, and schedule a free 15 minute question and answer session with the author. Kate maintains a list of authors who are willing to Skype in this way here. Many authors will offer a more in-depth session with a specific focus for a fee, and some even offer a writing workshop session. Double check by contacting authors for their latest “pricing” before buying books or announcing your event!
Preparing Your Students • Alternatives to Skype