Saturday, January 12, 2008

Simon & Schuster to Create Virtual Author Series

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing and Ball State University have partnered to bring S&S authors and illustrators into more than 30,000 schools nationwide through live, interactive Web broadcasts. Too few students today have had the opportunity to engage with authors and artists on a firsthand level, but Electronic Author Visits (EAV) utilize the BSU's groundbreaking Electronic Field Trips program to allow students and teachers to interact directly with authors and illustrators through live video, discussion forums, and downloadable learning activities.

S&S has formed an exclusive three-year agreement with Ball State University and plans to host three EAVs each year. Andrew Clements, the bestselling author of classroom favorites FRINDLE and NO TALKING, will kick off the program as the first EAV author on March 18. D. J. MacHale, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Pendragon series and Margaret Peterson Haddix, national bestselling author of the Shadow Children series, have signed on to participate as well.

An Electronic Author Visit is a unique experience that makes the rich content of S&S's bestselling and award-winning authors accessible to children and teachers. Each visit is a combination of several components. First, a website is created specifically for each EAV and serves two purposes: to provide teachers with background information that can be used to help students prepare for the author's visit and to offer interactive material that relates to the subject discussed in the author's or artist's book. In preparation for the EAV, the program also offers a series of classroom activities and curriculum binders. Simon & Schuster and BSU provide the author's books to a select group of teachers who then develop grade-appropriate activities for other teachers to use before the live broadcast. Booksource has signed on to be the sponsoring book supplier. To facilitate preparation for the EAV, Booksource will assist participating teachers with book orders through a convenient link to their site and ordering information.

The live Web broadcast is the culmination of the EAV experience. As a live broadcast, it has the potential to be much more interactive than a static television program and much more far-reaching than a typical Webinar. This 45- minute segment includes a presentation from the author, a reading or excerpt from the book, and a question-and-answer session in which the author fields questions from the students. Teachers can sign up for the first EAV with Andrew Clements by visiting the MyVisit website: