Sharing Authors’ Personal Stories with our Students

Anchor Chart image from Teaching and Tapas

My 7 yr-old son is a tough audience when it comes to books.  He enjoys having me read novels to him, but he has yet to find the right books that he is completely interested in reading himself.  I thought about what his favorite pastime is and decided to try to write a story with that hobby as the major part of the plot to interest him.  I have never been a creative writer, but he absolutely loved what I wrote and asked me where the rest was!  Before he went to bed on Saturday night, he gave me my homework: “You can NOT go to sleep until you write me 2 more chapters to read in the morning, ok Mom?!”  I tweeted his homework assignment out to my PLN to share my humorous situation and got the following reply:

I was intrigued and started reading about the author, Rick Riordan, on his website .  As I read through his page on “Advice for Writers,” I realized how important it is for our students to learn more about the authors whose books they are reading.  In one of his answers, Rick has a list of tips, including:

“Secondly, read a lot! Read everything you can get your hands on.  You will learn the craft of writing by immersing yourself in the voices, styles, and structures of writers who have gone before you. Don’t be afraid that you’ll start sounding like a particular writer you admire.  That just means you need to read MORE, not less.
Thirdly, write every day! Keep a journal.  Jot down interesting stories you heard. Write descriptions of people you see.  It doesn’t really matter what you write, but you must keep up practice. Writing is like a sport — you only get better if you practice.  If you don’t keep at it, the writing muscles atrophy.”
What incredible advice from an author that many of our students (in upper grades) love to read!  As I thought back to my classroom days, I recalled having “author studies,” where we read several picture books from the same author, comparing/contrasting among them.  I can’t recall ever taking the time to share with students the authors’ stories behind why they wrote each book or any other information they shared about what they do to write. 
Do you take time to share any of this with your students?  I’d love to hear about how it has impacted your students’ writing.  Here are some websites I found with resources on authors:
The Stacks list of authors from Scholastic
You can also google almost any author to find their homepage where they include far more information. Here’s some that I know are popular authors to our students:
And an author that is new to me, but I’m sure our students will love after he visits our school this week, is… Michael Scotto

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Melanie Meehan

    I love your post, Jessica, and I love that you are writing a story for your son. is a great place to find interviews with authors about how they find their inspiration. Patricia MacLachlan was the most recent one and it’s a great interview! Her advice is very similar to Rick Riordan’s.

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