Literature Ladders

Step 2: Search for Author and Illustrator Information

Where can I find background information about authors?
How can I learn more about the techniques authors and illustrators use for creating books?
How do I find out what new materials are coming out?

Authors are increasingly reaching out to their readers through the Internet. While some authors maintain their own websites others rely on the assistance of publishers. Although most authors are interesting in selling books, others are equally interested in issues such as libraries and literacy.

eye means essentialRead Of Books and Boys by Andrea Grazzini Walstrom from Connect For Kids. Then, visit GUYS READ by author Jon Scieszka. Do you think his website is effective? Why or why not?

The links below will take you to the resources on this page: Author Websites, Book Characters & Series Websites, Author Visits, and Authors, Illustrators and Technology-Rich Learning.

Author Websites

Many author websites simply provide basic information about the author and his or her books. While some authors use their website to increase book sales, others address issues related to popular topics such as literacy.

eye means essentialExplore Jan Brett's, Will Hobbs, and Orson Scott Card websites. Also try Nancy Calson, Deborah Hopkinson, Eric Carle, Patricia Polacco, Peggy Rathman, Jean Craighead George, and Todd Parr (Todd Parr Blog).
What makes them effective websites for an author?
What characteristics do they share?
How are they each different?
How could they be used with students?

From science and history to health and politics, authors often use Internet as a vehicle to communicate beyond their print publications. For example, Michael Moore and Bill O'Reilly uses their websites to not only sell his books, but also share his views. Dan Brown uses his website to share insights into the history and science associated with his popular novels.

Some authors share their passions and provide teaching and learning experiences. For instance, Faith Ringgold's website contains a Racial Questions and Answers section.

Also, looks for Web 2.0 applications focusing on authors such as that explores novelists.

eye means essentialExamine Stephen King's website. Why do authors have websites? Can you identify a few purposes for the author websites?

eye means essentialExamine Neil Gaiman's blog. An increasing number of authors are maintaining a blog to keep in contact with their readers. Why do you think he maintains a blog rather than a traditional website? What are the advantages of a blog?

To locate information about a particular author, use search engines such as Google to search for the name of the author. Put the author's name in quotation marks such as "Sharon Creech". If you forget the quotation marks, you'll end up with thousands of people with the first name "Sharon." Also, include the title of a book by the author such as "Walk Two Moon" or the word "author".

eye means essentialRather than providing a long list of author and illustrator links on this page, you can find author websites and author collections at Author and Illustrator Resources from Teacher Tap using the link below. Explore these resources.

Teacher Tap icon Go to Author and Illustrator Resources from Teacher Tap

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Book Characters & Series Websites

Students enjoy reading about their favorite characters and book series. For some students, the websites encourage them to get involved with activities related to the books.

Explore the Scholastic website's character and series areas such as Harry Potter and Goosebumps. What kinds of online materials encourage students to read? What additional information and activities go beyond the book(s)? How do students interact with the website? Do you think the website encourages students to read books?

Teacher Tap icon Go to Author and Illustrator Resources: Book Characters & Series from Teacher Tap

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Author Visits

Audio and video can bring an author alive for students. When possible, bring authors into your library or classroom. Students love to talk with authors and illustrators about their work. When a live visit isn't possible, consider a virtual visit through email or live chats.

Virtual Visits

Virtual visits provide an exciting way to interact with authors. Some authors schedule individual online chats, while others participate in large project chats. Many of the publishers such as Scholastic sponsor chats.

eye means essentialRead Bring an Author to Your Library--Bring Your Library to an Author! by Karen Kline and Kim Grimes in Book Links (April/May 2002, v.11, no.5)

Skim Questions You May Have About Planning an Author Visit by Verla Kay from Kids Booklink.

Audio & Video Visits

Sometimes personal interactions with authors aren't possible. Websites provide great information about authors and illustrators. When possible, locate materials that include photographs, audio, and video along with traditional biographical sketches and interviews.

eye for essentialListen to an Audio Interview with Fred Rogers. Although he passed away last year, he still lives through audio, video, and books. Explore other audio interviews about Wired for Books. Real Audio is needed to hear clips.

In the past, booking an author to visit your school could take many letters and phone calls. Today, the Internet provides a great way to contact authors. Many authors have representatives who make their arrangements. Use the following resources to identify authors and illustrators as well as learn how to set up a school visit.

Teacher Tap icon Go to Face-to-Face and Virtual Author & Illustrator Visits from Teacher Tap

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Authors, Illustrators and Technology-Rich Learning

Locating a bunch of author websites is only the first step in designing a technology-rich environment for student learning. It's your job to consider ways that web resources will bring the author alive for students. For example, ask students to find a fact about the author that is surprising, cool, interesting, like themselves, unlike themselves, or some other descriptive word or phrase. Ask them to explore how the author connects to the book through the characters, setting, or plot.

Go to the IPL Authors page for lots of resources.

Teacher Tap icon Go to Author and Illustrator Resources: Author Connections from Teacher Tap

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Go to Step 3: Book Information and Author Ideas

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