How to Write a Letter an Author Will Love

secret destiny of pixie piper

In This Recent Fractured Fairy Tale Book List Post, I highlighted a sweet book Miss Priss and I found this summer called The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper. Because of the post, a real live book author contacted ME! She offered to author a guest post at TheRoomMom and include a giveaway for an autographed copy of her book. Ms. Fisher offers great tips for contacting book authors and writing letters that authors love to read. If you would like to win an autographed copy of her book, share this blog post on social media using the hashtag, #readpixiepiper. After sharing, add your information to This Rafflecopter Link to be entered to win! Contest ends Friday, September 2, 2016.

annabelle fisher letter

A Guest Post by Annabelle Fisher

Author of The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper

Have you ever written to an author before? Have you imagined her (or him!) reading your letter while drinking a cup of coffee? Was this author smiling, laughing, or wishing she could give you a comforting hug?

The letters we authors like to receive best are a bit like conversations. The one I posted above is one of my favorites because I could picture the letter-writer’s class laughing or shouting as the teacher read. It included details about exactly what was funny. I also liked hearing how my book let the class “get the laughs out” after reading a sad book. I loved knowing that my story made those kids feel better.

I asked some author friends of mine what questions and comments they like to see in the letters they receive. Here are their answers:

Donna Galanti, author of Joshua and the Lightning Road, wrote that she’d had a young reader (who actually reviews books) tell her that he liked how she used scents and smells in her book. He quoted the line “He smelled like a wet dog that had been swimming in sour milk.” He said he knew “exactly how revolting is.”

Author Susan Lynn Meyer wrote that one of her favorite things was hearing from a young reader in Austria who had read the English edition of her novel, Black Radishes, although German was his first language and it had been translated into German.  Ms. Meyer said, “It’s exciting the book is traveling around the world, including to places I’ve never been.”

Jeannie Mobley, author of Silver Heels, says, “I commonly have kids tell me what they think should happen to my main characters after the story ends, and I always like that.”

Author Susan Ross says, “I was very moved by thank you letters in a blog from an inner city class…that read Kiki and Jacques prior to my author visit. One student’s favorite part was the father getting help with alcoholism; another said he could face up to a bully now….Meant so much to me!”

These caring authors are curious about what you think – and so am I. We enjoy knowing not just what our readers liked, but why. We want to know not only where you’re from, but what you would show us if we came to visit your city or town.  We like to hear if the main character or another character reminds you of yourself, a friend, or a frenemy. And we absolutely want to know if our books inspired you and how.

Your questions and comments remind us that our readers care about what we write. So keep those letters coming!

Annabelle Fisher is the author of The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper, which reviewers have called, “entertaining,” “fresh,” “creative,” and “pretty darn charming.” Visit her website at for info about author talks and writers’ workshops. Or email her at

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For more help writing author letters, CLICK HERE to download a Free Author Letter Resource on TpT.


Books with a Summer Setting

justin case shells smells

I keep seeing articles about how to encourage children to read throughout the summer. All of the articles make the same basic suggestions. Set a daily reading time. Establish a specific amount of time to read each day. Get involved in a reading incentive program at a local library or bookstore, and provide good book choices.

Ultimately, if your child/student likes to read, he or she will continue to read in the summer as long as there are books available. If you do not have a child who is an avid reader then you (or another adult) have to support the reading habits if you want any reading to happen. You will need to provide reading material or opportunities to choose reading material; model reading (that means read yourself); read together, and have book discussions. Even though we often think of reading as an independent activity for older kids, a child will develop better reading habits if reading is treated like a group activity, and all participate.

I wish there was a pill to magically make a child a reader but there is not. If you need a little kick-start finding a book to help your child get over the reading-when-not-at-school hump, try a book that takes place during the summer when the characters in the story are also not attending school.

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Upper Elementary (~3rd grade to 6th grade)

  • The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies
  • Under the Egg by Laura Max Fitzgerald
  • My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian
  • Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
  • Summer Pony by Jean Slaughter Doty
  • Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  • The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop by Kate Saunders
  • Hound Dog True by Linda Urban
  • Justin Case: Shells, Smells, and Horrible Flip-Flops of Doom by Rachel Vail
  • The Secret Tree by Natalie Standiford
  • Ten Good and Bad Things About My Life (So Far) by Ann M. Martin
  • The Bread Winner by Arvella Whitmore
  • The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin
  • The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
  • Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech
  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  • Kavik the Wolf Dog by Walt Morey

Middle School (7th grade+)

  • Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Green
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
  • The Summer of the Swans Betsy Byars

For younger readers, try The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner specifically #2 in the series. I could not remember for sure, but I think some of the Ivy and Bean books by Barrow take place during the summer as well as some of the Judy Moody by McDonald. Now that Mr. Star Wars and Miss Priss are beyond the early chapter books (sniff), my radar is not as good for these younger titles.

summer of my german soldier

Mystery, History, and Art

under the egg

I have been reading at a pretty good clip since school ended. I just finished a book called Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald. At first, I thought it was going to be another book with Quirky Sidekicks that seems to be the current trend in juvenile literature. While there are definitely oddball characters, the book is more of an art mystery. It is a combination of From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and The DaVinci Code. Some of the solutions in the story are a little too convenient, but overall, I loved the information about the Renaissance painter, Raphael, World War II, and the Monuments Men. There are a handful of other books that center around family heirloom secrets in order to reach the resolution. I love the scavenger hunt aspect to these books and recommend them for students because they require a ton of critical reading skills to follow the plot.

mystery, history, and art book list pin

  • Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
  • Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
  • The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan ( and The 39 Clues series)
  • Conspiracy 365 series by Gabrielle Lord
  • Destiny, Rewritten by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
  • Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
  • The Shadows by Jacqueline West (The Books of Elsewhere series)
  • We the Children by Andrew Clements (Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School series)
  • The Ring of Rocamadour by Michael D. Beil (The Red Blazer Girls series)
  • Masterpiece by Elise Broach
  • From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
  • The Second Mrs. Giacondo by E.L. Konigsburg
  • Leonardo’s Shadow by Christopher Grey
  • The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone
  • Cecily’s Portrait by Adele Geras (Historical House series)
  • The Blackhope Enigma by Teresa Flavin
  • The Theft & the Miracle by Rebecca Wade

Many of these books are cross listed on my Scavenger Hunt Book List as well as my Fate and Destiny Book List. Obviously, I am drawn to this style of book. What is on your summer stack?

sixty eight rooms


Instead of Junie B. Jones

just graceMiss Priss is a good little independent reader, but she is still at a stage where she needs 8-year old content, shorter chapter books, and simple plot lines. An obvious choice is Junie B. Jones, but the character bothers me. I want Miss Priss wants spunky book characters that are in the same vein as Junie B., but she also wants I want the character to use decent grammar.

Here are a few book suggestions that meet the decent grammar and spunky girl character criteria. Miss Priss reads them on her own, but we also spend time reading together several nights a week. I read a page aloud, and then my daughter takes a turn. It helps build her reading fluency without slowing the reading down so much that she loses momentum. It is also just a fun activity for the two of us.

no dogs allowed

1st grade+

  • No Dogs Allowed by Stephanie Calmenson and Joanna Cole
  • Just Grace series by Cherise Mericle Harper
  • Cam Jansen series by David A. Adler
  • Heidi Heckelbeck series by Wanda Coven
  • Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary
  • The Never Girls series by Kiki Thorpe
  • Ivy and Bean series by Annie Barrows
  • Gooney Bird Greene series by Lois Lowry
  • My America: Meg’s Prairie Diary series by Kate McMullan
  • Hailey Twitch series by Lauren Barnholdt


4th grade+

  • Wide Awake Princess series by E.D. Baker
  • Ten Good and Bad Things About My Life (So Far) by Ann M. Martin
  • Destiny, Rewritten by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
  • The Magic Half by Annie Barrows
  • Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley M. M. Blume
  • The Tail of Emily Windsnap series by Liz Kessler
  • Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  • The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern
  • Maggie Malone and the Mostly Magical Boots by Jenna McCarthy and Carolyn Evans
  • The Bread Winner by Arvella Whitmore
  • The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
  • A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry

It Might Make You Cry, but You Should Read it Anyway


I don’t understand why I love books that are sad, but I do. I often have a book hangover** for days after finishing a tearjerker. These sad stories typically involve a pet or family member death though that is not a requirement. Here are a few of my favorite books that might make the reader cry, but they are so good, it is hard to put them down.

The books are roughly upper elementary (4th, 5th, 6th) reading range, but I noted a few for middle school readers. Several are great read alouds for younger readers, but remember, it is hard to read aloud when sobbing. There was an incident this year in a certain 4th grade classroom with Stone Fox.

** Book Hangover– (n) The lingering feeling a person has after finishing a book and can not get the story out of his/her mind. It sometimes prevents a person from starting a new book.

  • Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea (6th grade+)
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  • Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
  • Death Be Not Proud by John Gunther (7th grade+)
  • The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
  • Love That Dog and Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech (My students don’t cry when they read these books. I think it is a mom thing that makes me cry.)
  • A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass
  • Missing May by Cynthia Rylant
  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  • See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles
  • Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
  • A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams (7th grade+)
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio

And the Grand Prize Winner, hands down, never fails to make me cry hysterically, but I have read it at least ten times– Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.