12 Online Author Activities for Students of All Ages

  • Authors, illustrators, and performers are sharing their work and talents with young people and their families! From videos to live events on social media, check out a baker’s dozen of virtual activities, read-alouds, and how-to events.

    Authors Read!

    1. Roda Ahmed reads her books, including “Mae Among the Stars,” live on Instagram @RodaWorld. (Speaking of the stars, check out Story Time from Space, featuring astronauts reading aboard space vehicles in orbit.)

    2. Diane Alber, author of “A Little Spot of Kindness” and “I am Not a Scribble,” reads her books on Facebook.

    3. James Dean takes to Instagram to share read-alouds from his Pete the Cat series, fun illustrations, and more.

    4. Peter Reynolds, author of “The Dot,” is hosting lunchtime read-alouds on Facebook every Friday.

    5. Patricia Polacco reads her book, “My Rotten Red Headed Older Brother,” and gives behind the scenes insight into her book in this YouTube video.

    6. Melinda Long, author of “How I Became a Pirate” and “Pirates Don’t Change Diapers,” shares clips of her reading her books and activities for families.

    Collections and Performances

    7. We Are Teachers. Check out “The Big List of Children’s Authors Doing Online Read-Alouds & Activities” from We Are Teachers. You’ll find more than 50 options for children of all ages, including virtual book tours, discussion guides, writing exercises, mini-lessons, poetry prompts, and read-alouds like some of the favorites noted above.'

    8. Storyline Online. Presented by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Foundation, SAG actors read new releases and classics for students in grades K-5, including “Harry the Dirty Dog” (read by Betty White), “To Be a Drum” (read by James Earl Jones), “The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen” (read by Oprah Winfrey), and “The Empty Pot” (read by Rami Malek). Check out videos, activity guides, and a blog with daily reading suggestions.

    9. #LeVarBurtonReads. LeVar Burton (“Reading Rainbow”) will offer weekly readings for kids (Mon., Noon), young adults (Wed., 6 p.m.), and grown-ups (Fri., 9 p.m.) via Twitter livestream (#LeVarBurtonReads). Older teens and adults may enjoy the LeVar Burton Reads podcast, featuring the best in short fiction. Speaking of “Reading Rainbow,” episodes of the beloved PBS series are on Netflix, and a reimagined “reboot” of the show is in the works.

    10. Authors Everywhere! Subscribe to this YouTube channel, created by middle grades writer Susan Tan, for videos of read-alouds, workshops, art demos, activities, book talks, and more from authors and illustrators. (Kid Lit TV also offers a fun YouTube channel with offerings from authors, illustrators, musicians, actors, and more.)

    Writing Tips

    11. Fiction Fridays. Award-winning author Heather Shumaker hosts this weekly author chat for young writers interested in fiction and learning more about how authors write their books. She’ll even read aloud the winning entry in a writing contest for kids.

    12. Writing Tips. Author and illustrator Bruce Hale (Chet Gecko series, Class Pets series, Clark the Shark series , and more) offers tips for young writers like “Writer’s Block: How to Cure It” on his website. (Here’s a video of him reading one of his popular picture books, “Big Bad Baby.”)


    13. Draw with talented author-illustrators! Learn how Debbi Ridpath Ohi draws squirrels. Create amazing doodles with Mo Willems (#MoLunchDoodles), education artist-in-residence for the Kennedy Center and creator of beloved characters like Pigeon, Knuffle Bunny, and Elephant & Piggie. Check out daily drawing lessons with Jarrett J. Krosoczka, creator of the Lunch Lady graphic novel series. And, join Dav Pilkey (author-illustrator for several series, including Dog Man and Captain Underpants) @home for tips on illustration and fun read-alouds.