Sunday, March 10, 2013

Letters to the Author

Today I'm over at the Spellbinders Blog talking about the "Letter to the Author" project I conducted with freshman and sophomores at the high school where I work as a speech-language pathologist. I'm offering more suggestions about connecting readers with authors, but first you may want to visit last month's article where I offered several tips on how to brainstorm letter content with students and incorporate goals and objectives into the letter writing process. A copy of that article may be found here.

As a follow up to last months letter writing project, today I will be discussing additional tips for connecting authors and readers. Here is tip #1. The other four tips may be found at Spellbinders.

1. Connect with authors through books and websites like  Dear Teen Me. While serving on a panel at the Montgomery Book Festival in February, I met co-panelist E. Kristin Anderson and fell in love with the book she edited with Miranda Kenneally entitled Dear Teen Me. The book contains letters by various authors to their teen selves and includes entries by Ellen Hopkins, Lauren Oliver, Carrie Jones and Cynthia Leitich Smith. The various authors cover a wide range of topics including finding true love, discovering the true meaning of friendship, as well as surviving physical abuse, body issues, and bullying. The stories are sometimes funny and sometimes sad, but always close to the heart. I highly recommend this book as well as the website Dear Teen Me for connecting readers and authors.

While we anxiously awaited Cynthia's response to our letters, we read her excerpt from Dear Teen Me. Learning about Cynthia's experience of break up, heart break, and the girl bully who tormented, but ultimately admitted that she admired Cynthia, made it that much more meaningful when we received Cynthia's response to our student letters. She answered individual questions within a group letter and I made copies to hand out to all the students so they could follow along as I read the letter aloud in class.

For other helpful tips on connecting young readers with authors, go to Spellbinders.

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