Internet Field Trip: Meet the Authors
- Grades: 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
Have you ever wondered how your favorite author thought of his story? Where she grew up? What his favorite food is? On this adventure, you'll find the answers to questions like these from the writers themselves.
J.K. Rowling is happy to share many secrets with readers, including the fact that she created Harry Potter while riding a crowded train, and that she finished writing the first book soon after returning home from teaching in Portugal.
Get to know an author you may not be as familiar with, like Jane Kurtz. Kurtz moved to Ethiopia when she was 2 years old and attended a boarding school in Addis Ababa. She liked to eat wat, a spicy stew, and injera, a spongy bread. When Kurtz began to read books to her own children in the United States, she decided she wanted to write children's books. Since 1994 she has written more than 22 books for children, many of which draw on her experiences in Ethiopia. She has also returned to Ethiopia several times to speak to students and work with teachers. Fans are welcome to email her for more information.
Next, meet Patricia Polacco, author and illustrator of The Keeping Quilt, Pink and Say, and Thank You, Mr. Falker. Polacco was born in Michigan in 1944. School was tough until she was diagnosed with a learning disability called dyslexia and received the help she needed to learn. Polacco started her career by restoring ancient pieces of art for museums and only later began illustrating books for children. This renowned author works on each of her books for three to five months. Polacco loves to eat "anything with lots of garlic" and prefers earthy colors.
Rowling, Kurtz, and Polacco aren't the only authors ready to share their life stories on the Internet. Visit Eric Carle, and he'll tell you how he got his beard. Learn how Beverly Cleary was inspired to write for "children who built scooters out of apple boxes and roller skates."
Discover fascinating facts about writers you think you know, like that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory author Roald Dahl really loved chocolate...and orchids. A childhood English teacher showed Redwall to a publisher without telling author Brian Jacques, who then got his first contract. Lois Lowry's father was an Army dentist, so she grew up all over the world — from Pennsylvania to Tokyo. Nothing slows down Gary Paulson, who still trains for the Iditarod, the 1,180-mile Alaskan dog sled race. But beware, some authors spin tales about themselves that are as fictional as their books. For instance, you may not want to believe Goosebumps author R.L. Stine when he tells you he grew up on a pig farm.
Want to find facts about other authors? The Internet Public Library has a list of authors' Web sites, from A to K and L to Z. Plus, check Scholastic's Authors & Books for updates on live interviews with authors throughout the school year. If you miss a chat, you can read the transcript, or browse the author's booklist. Soon you'll feel as if you've known them forever!