Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Behind the Books: 10 Ways Authors Can Help Educators

Common Core is in the news almost daily. A lot of people don’t like the new standards, or at least the standardized testing that comes along with them. But the fact is that CCSS has been adopted by most of America, so teachers have to address the new standards regardless of the political frenzy swirling all around them.

So the best thing we can do as authors of nonfiction as well as fiction is help them. With that goal in mind, I thought I’d share some general strategies for authors who would like to guide educators in using their books to meet the Common Core standards.

1. Write discussion questions that help students identify a book’s main idea and key details.
Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple
2. Develop a teacher’s guide with activities that help students build vocabulary; understand connections and relationships between key ideas, events or individuals in a book; and examine a book’s structure.
David LaRochelle
3. Offer writers’ workshops that focus on such topics as structure, voice, and word choice.
Barbara O'Connor
4. Write blog posts that describe your intentions or writing process for a specific book.
Jo Knowles

5. Write blog posts, create videos, or develop school visits that deconstruct specific aspects of your writing .
    Jeannine Atkins
6. If you write picture books or photo-illustrated books, write blog posts, create videos, or develop school visits or classroom materials that highlight the connection between pictures and words in your books.
    Steve Jenkins
7. Speak at local and national conferences for teachers and librarians about specific aspects of writing craft.
8. Develop worksheets and visual aids that educators can use to teach specific aspects of writing craft.
9. Create lists of fiction and nonfiction titles that have a connection to your book, so students can compare the texts.
10. Provide links to related media on your website, so students can compare them to your book.
Loree Griffin Burns
Do you have other ideas about how authors can help educators address the goals of Common Core? I’d love to hear them.


  1. You always have so many good ideas. I've always liked teachers who compare fiction and nonfiction, so this is inspiring me, as a beginning, to make that easier for them. Thank you, Melissa, and for including my blog!

  2. Jeannine,
    Have you ever thought of pairing Girls Who Look Under Rocks with The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate? Then they could read Yellowstone Moran and use Lita Judge's journaling activity as a follow up: It would be a great combination.

  3. Wonderful examples of how we can work with the Common Core and make it easy for teachers to incorporate our books! Thanks Melissa!

  4. All wonderful suggestions, Melissa. Thank you!

  5. Melissa, great suggestions here. Also, I think it's great if you're on Pinterest to tell educators how to use your picture books as mentor texts to teach a certain skill. See mine here:

  6. Thanks for sharing this information. It's invaluable!

  7. Wonderful post! I'm a children's book illustrator, author, and publisher. I agree 100% with your list. Marketing books means developing products around the story. Speaking, resources, and online presence is a must.