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STORYTIME

These children’s book authors are reading their stories online

Author Kate Messner rallied children's book authors to share resources for kids online
Author Kate Messner rallied children's book authors to share resources for kids onlineAndy Duback

By Melissa Karen Sances

When Kate Messner put out the call, authors responded within the hour. The award-winning children’s author and former middle-school teacher knew there was a need for virtual education following school closures related to COVID-19. “My initial goal was to share resources as quickly as possible, simply because kids were leaving school without a whole lot planned,” Messner explained. So when the New York-based writer contacted her peers — many of whom live in Massachusetts — contributions started pouring in for “Read, Wonder and Learn,” an online collection of more than 50 videos of children’s authors reading from their books and, in some cases, suggesting activities viewers can do at home.

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“Authors and illustrators have been so generous in sharing their expertise,” Messner said. “It’s a silver lining in a situation like this.”

Massachusetts-based author Grace Lin teaches kids how to draw a dragon online
Massachusetts-based author Grace Lin teaches kids how to draw a dragon onlineHandout (custom credit)/Handout


Children aren’t the only audience to flock to the site. “What has made me cry several times is that these videos are finding their way to people that we did not intend them for,” said Messner. “My mom, who is 81, is hunkered down in her condo in Florida right now. She called to say that she loved watching Grace Lin show us how to draw a dragon, and how she might try now. We forget how much everyone loves a story.”

Messner heard from a librarian in Shanghai who said the site appeared “just in time” for a city that needs new resources more than ever. “I woke up at 2 a.m. thinking, ‘There’s got to be more we can do to help.’ ”

You can find a link to the Read, Wonder and Learn videos at www.katemessner.com

Check out the videos of these Massachusetts-based authors:

Grace Lin teaches viewers how to draw a Chinese dragon and reads the first story from her early reader, “Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same!”

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Michelle Cusolito shares a lesson about adding sensory details to your writing.

Elly Swartz gives tips on how to use emotions to create authentic characters.

Jarrett Lerner offers techniques to help you draw anything and everything.

Melissa Karen Sances is a Globe Correspondent. She can be reached at melissaksances@gmail.com.