When a student reads a book and develops a connection with the story, that student often becomes interested in the person who took them on that journey. Author websites can be a door into the creative world of the writer and can even prompt a desire to express themselves through story, poetry or journaling. Here, we look at the websites of three authors of fiction whose output has proven to be especially engaging and whose websites have much to offer readers and educators.
There’s much more to Holly Black than the Spiderwick Chronicles and last year’s Newbery Honor Doll Bones as visitors to blackholly.com soon discover. Recently redesigned and replete with resources, the site includes all the usual must-haves such as a biography, a bibliography, and teacher guides plus an informative Q&A, activities to accompany her most celebrated series and an extensive section devoted to those who want to pursue writing. The writing resources section includes not just tips but also several articles on the craft of writing and very helpful research resources. Interested in writing retellings of fairy tales? Blackholly.com should be your first stop since it includes links to everything from a traditional ballad index to a comprehensive article on faerie place names, attributes and more. Are vampires more your style? Let blackholly guide you to Vampires, Burial and Death. Do you want to venture into the thriller genre? Holly’s section on cons and heists is a great way to case the joint. Holly’s voice–intense yet playful, edgy yet oddly comforting–permeates the site so you feel like you are in a personal conversation with the author. Free stuff abounds as well with poetry, short stories and activities that complement both the Spiderwick and Magisterium series. Whether you fly in for a quick tip on fairies or stay for awhile and read a story, blackholly.com is a place both kids and educators will want to visit.
It’s no mystery why Hank the Cowdog continues to capture both the culprits and young readers. John Erickson’s canine sleuth has an original voice and a frisky attitude that is found on every page of hankthecowdog.com. The FanZone has reproducible activities and more, plus a comprehensive bibliography with complete leveling information. A Reading Log features Hank art and titles but can easily be adapted for more general reading. Character pages provide useful models for aspiring young writers and fans of the series will note the resemblance between Slim and Hank’s creator John Erickson. John’s blog is as full of resources as a coyote’s coat is of cockleburs. A particularly interesting take on Hank the Cowdog is revealed in an interview between Erickson and a wildlife biologist whose family took Hank audiobooks on family trips. Click on “Educational Resources” at the base of the page for reader’s theatre productions of Hank stories that can make the book experience more participatory.
At sharoncreech.com, the rhyming “Teach Creech” is especially appropriate for a former teacher who also writes novels in verse. Educator resources for her many works are included here along with a comprehensive view of her fictional world, an in-depth guide to Love That Dog/Hate That Cat and a guide to using literature circles. Discussion questions and activities for her many novels are also to be found here along with the most charming effort to forestall classroom visit requests ever seen, done a la Love That Dog. “The World of Sharon Creech” is 22 pages filled with discussion questions for her most popular books along with Common Core correlations. The many tips for teaching poetry in the Love That Dog/Hate That Cat 11-page guide is more than enough to justify the visit to “Teach Creech.” Students will gain a deeper understanding of the Newbery Medal and its impact on an author by viewing the photo album from that special night when Sharon was honored for Walk Two Moons. Sharon’s blog can be accessed via sharoncreech.com or sharonkaycreech.blogspot.com/ where she ruminates on nature, life, and more, often accompanied by gorgeous photography, providing a window into the creative soul.