Nick’s Picks: An Author in Every Classroom

This post was originally published in Nick Glass’ monthly column for Curriculum Connections, an e-newsletter published by School Library Journal in partnership with Subscribe to this free newsletter here.

An author in every classroom: imagine. It’s a powerful experience to listen to the author of the book you are reading speak about his or her inspirations and the craft of writing. The good news is that these encounters are possible; most schools are now wired for the Internet and online digital recordings are accessible.

This post offers a sampling of’s recordings of favorite children’s and young adult authors sharing insights about their work. In these brief audio excerpts students will hear authors express their enthusiasm for their subjects as they reveal how their passions have guided their research and writing.

Jean Craighead George, for example, spent years living in a tent observing wildlife before she wrote her Newbery winner, Julie of the Wolves. By the age of 15, Christopher Paolini had completed high school and penned his bestselling Eragon, in part because he wanted to write about the dragons, swords, and villains he so loved reading about. And it was the “Monkey King” stories Gene Luen Yang heard in his childhood, and his pride in his Asian American heritage, that inspired his Michael L. Printz award-winning title, American Born Chinese.

Enjoy these short audio excerpts from, where every week we record authors discussing how and why they write their books.

American Born Chinese (Roaring Brook, 2006)

Listen as Gene Luen Yang explains how stories in the “Monkey King” tradition offered him a way to explore the Asian American experience.

Eragon (Knopf, 2003)

Hear how and why Christopher Paolini wrote his bestselling fantasy while still a teen.

The First Part Last (S & S, 2003)

Watch and listen as Angela Johnson narrates a slide show exploring the urban landscape in which her 16-year-old protagonist, Bobby, reflects on his life and teenage fatherhood.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Scholastic, 2007)

Share Brian Selznick’s arresting pencil illustrations with students as the author reads from his book and describes pictures from the first chapter of this Caldecott winner.

Julie of the Wolves (Harper & Row, 1972)

Meet Jean Craighead George and learn about her love of the natural world. Listen as she reads from her beloved Newbery-award winner.

Posted by Nick Glass, Founder & Principal of

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One Response to Nick’s Picks: An Author in Every Classroom

  1. Helene Chazin September 22, 2009 at 5:47 pm #

    Thank you so much for linking authors speaking the words they have written. It really helps pique the interest of even the most reticent readers. Many of my students read The Graveyard Book after hearing Gaiman read his first chapter.

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