Educators work hard! Creating units of work that meet the curriculum, engage students and produce great outcomes is not easy.
But authors and illustrators are here to help.
Australian author Charlotte Barkla has rounded up a list of resources created by authors and illustrators to help educators and their students connect with books and reading. As a teacher herself, she understands the value of an expert helping hand (particularly when most of these resources are free)!
Author/illustrator resources for teachers and librarians
A guest post by Charlotte Barkla
From teachers’ notes to newsletters, author penpals and writing tips videos, there’s no shortage of resources to help your classroom connect with authors/illustrators and their work.
The best part? Many of them are free*!
Teachers notes are a one-stop shop for creative writing activities. They’re usually linked to key curriculum areas, and are packed full of ideas for discussion questions, creative writing tasks and other activities.
Publishers often have a webpage devoted to the teachers’ notes for their titles, or you can find them on the author’s website. Otherwise, a quick google search on ‘book title + teachers notes’ will point you in the right direction.
Inspired by BookPenPals, a UK initiative, Author Pen Pals connects Australian authors and illustrators with schools across the country.
The program was created by authors Kate Foster and Dee White, and pairs authors and illustrators with a class for one school year. Authors send the class four postcards throughout the year, chatting about books, sharing writing/drawing prompts and talking about their creative process.
So far, the program has connected 200 creators with 250 classes from 80 primary schools. An impressive achievement!
If you go down the rabbit hole of YouTube there’s no shortage of videos to inspire your classes. You’ll find writing tips for kids by A.L Tait, book-inspired Book’N’Boogie dance videos by Nat Amoore, ‘how to draw’ videos by Matt Stanton and nature journaling with Trace Balla.
One of my personal favourites is Oliver Phommavanh’s YouTube channel, Virtual Oliver P. If you wade through the plethora of sneaker-based videos, you’ll find a bunch of great book reviews and a series of 5-7 minute Mini Writing Lessons, perfect for getting kids’ creative juices flowing.
(There are also plenty of sneaker reviews, if that’s your thing.)
If you’re looking for a book recommendation, you can’t go past the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook group.
About to start a new unit of work, and looking for a picture book to introduce the topic?
What about a book that sparks the interest of that soccer-loving eight-year-old in the back row?
Whatever your question, type it in and you’ll have five to ten answers before you even press ‘post’. (Not quite, but it feels like it.)
Megan Daley’s website is another gold mine for book recommendations. She has helpful ‘Top 20 Book Lists’ covering babies through to adult readers, and hundreds of book reviews that can be filtered by age group and genre.
If you’re tired of department store sales newsletters and scam emails junking up your inbox, why not sign up to an author’s newsletter?
Newsletters can be a fun way to connect with authors and their work, and can also be a handy classroom resource.
In my free newsletter, Behind the Books with Charlotte Barkla, I delve into one aspect of the writing or publishing process each month.
My first issue covered coming up with ideas, while my second delved into the drafting process. By the end of the year, I’ll take readers through the entire process of publishing a book, from idea through to publication.
The newsletter is kid-friendly, so teachers/librarians/parents of voracious readers are welcome to share the content with their kids and classes. (You’re also welcome to send in questions, for me to cover during the newsletter series.) I’d love you to join me!
Arts and Crafts
Not forgetting the younger age groups, there are lots of wonderful arts and crafts activities that tie in with Australian books.
Author-illustrator Judith Rossell has templates for making delightful tiny houses and rainbow stars, as well as a monster-drawing game.
Writing Courses / workshops
If you’re looking for something meatier for your kids/classes, a number of authors offer writing courses too.
A. L. Tait runs the Creative Writing Quest For Kids at the Australian Writers’ Centre, Tristan Bancks offers Young Writers Story School, Nat Amoore and Tim Harris run Kids Writing Cool and Emily Gale and Nova Weetman offer Writing with Emily and Nova. Lots of great courses to choose from – and some take the Creative Kids Vouchers too!
Last but not least, check out the website of your favourite author or illustrator for links to teachers’ notes, activities or other resources.
Better yet, drop them a message to say you/your class enjoyed their book or activity. It’s guaranteed to make their day!
*Many of these resources are free, but if you’d like to support the author or illustrator you can buy their book, borrow it from your local library, or book them to speak at your school or library. Not just for Book Week, author / illustrator visits can be a valuable opportunity to motivate kids with their reading, writing and creating. And we love it too!
Charlotte Barkla is a Brisbane-based teacher and author of four children’s books: All Bodies are Good Bodies, From My Head to My Toes, I Say What Goes and the Edie’s Experiments series. She is working on five new books, include a picture book with Hachette, a fiction series with Walker Books Australia and a fiction series with Scholastic.
Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.