How does one inspire a passion for learning through reading, thinking, and writing? By connecting students to the world of books, educators help them to become autonomous learners. This symposium will offer keys to foster a permanent interest for reading in students. Three unique strategies will be demonstrated.

Participants will engage in this lively program on the value of author connections in fostering student literacy with a focus on the varied menu of opportunities for making those connections in schools. Author presenters will offer participants a variety of experiences, from “live” face-to-face visits to newer “virtual” visit opportunities using e-mail, chat, ATM, and web-based technologies. In addition, we will discuss the need for research based evidence to reinforce the belief that author connections support student achievement in language arts. Attendees will be invited to participate in an action research project to implement author-student connections. The key question will be "What is the impact upon student reading comprehension when reading becomes relevant to students through author connections?"


1. To share the value of face-to-face and virtual visits with authors and illustrators in promoting increased student literacy. Reading and books become more relevant and personal when students see the relationship between an author and his or her written work.
2. To share the impact of author/illustrator connections on student achievement.
3. To provide educators with an introduction to the many options for connecting students with children’s authors and illustrators.
4. To provide educators with methods for connecting with authors and illustrators despite time-constraints, geographic limitations, or financial concerns using new electronic opportunities.
5. To foster an interest in action research development related to the question: What is the impact on reading comprehension when students interact with authors and reading becomes real?
6. To encourage participants to develop a schoolwide commitment to strengthening reading literacy K-12 through author connections.

Research has shown that students who are engaged in their learning through active participation and opportunities to work collaboratively with their peers tend to be more motivated to learn(Bandura,1977; Vygotsky, 1978). Collaborative Classroom research "indicates [that] successful learning also involves an interaction of the learner, the materials, the teacher, and the context" (NCREL, Tinzmann, Jones, Fennimore, Bakker, Fine, and Pierce, 1990).
Current literature reinforces the use of texts through author visits (Ruurs, 2005) as well as the classic concept developed by Dewey of 'learning by doing' (1956). The use of various instructional technologies reinforce the reading experiences for students. (Bruce, 2003).
Strategies will be offered to support the efforts of the classroom teacher in motivating communities of learners as they engage in reading.


Participants will engage in an interactive symposium focused on the benefits and practical details of implementation in connecting students with authors and illustrators. Research and theory will come alive as three children’s authors demonstrate distinctive options for fostering literacy through author connections and a fourth author joins the audience “virtually.” Participants will have the opportunity to share their impressions following the author presentations and ask the questions necessary to enable them to return to their educational settings and begin to plan for connecting their own students with authors, live or virtually.


The presenters' PowerPoint slide show will integrate research, theory and classroom strategies. Participants will enjoy presentations by children's authors in attendance as well as by a "virtual" author attendee. A lively interaction between conference presenters and participants about the value of connecting authors to their students will conclude the presentation.


International Reading Conference

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