Where do writers get their ideas? Often they base their stories on events in their own lives. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books drew on her experiences as a child growing up on the Western frontier. Jack London was inspired to write “Call of the Wild” after spending a winter in the Yukon. And Sandra Cisneros’ stories recall her youth in a Latino community in Chicago. To learn more about books and authors, use the direct links on The Times’ Launch Point Web site.

Here are the best sites for getting your schoolwork done or for just having fun.


Just For Kids Who Love Books: From Lloyd Alexander to Charlotte Zolotow, more than 100 authors make an appearance on this site. Find out what their childhoods were like and what inspired them to become writers. Also, check out the Children’s Library of Book Reviews to find out what other kids recommend.

Internet Public Library--The Author Page: The author Avi believes that “reading is the key to writing. The more you read, the better your writing can be.” Find out what he and other writers have to say about their work. And you can even ask questions of some of the authors.

Arthur the Aardvark--Marc Brown: Learn about the creator of the Arthur the Aardvark books, send your own letter to Arthur, or play some games that can help you write your own stories.



Children’s Literature Web Guide--Authors on the Web: Want to learn more about Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis or Dr. Seuss? This site tells you about those and many more well-known authors. Includes links to pictures, biographies, illustrated stories and some activities.

Biographical Internet Sites for Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators: What childhood experiences influenced writers like Amy Tan, Gary Soto and Maurice Sendak? Discover the stories here, along with poetry writing tips from Father Goose (Charles Ghigna) and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s photo album.

Jack London: “Buck did not read the newspapers, or he would have known that trouble was brewing, not alone for himself, but for every tidewater dog . . . from Puget Sound to San Diego.” Those words begin Jack London’s famous novel, “Call of the Wild.” This site features his works along with photos, letters and other resources.


Portrait Gallery of American Authors: Curious about what some of your favorite writers look like? Whether it’s Zora Neale Hurston or Edgar Allen Poe, this site introduces you to various authors and provides links to some of their works.

Literary Calendar--An Almanac of Literary Information: Learn about writers through key events and quotes, such as this one from Mark Twain comparing himself to George Washington: “I have a higher and greater standard of principle. Washington could not lie. I can lie but I won’t.” The site includes links to reference materials.

VOS English Literature--Minority: This site links to resources on a variety of African American, Asian American, Chicano-Latino, Jewish, Native American and Anglophone writers.

Launch Point is produced by the UC Irvine department of education, which reviews each site for appropriateness and quality. Even so, parents should supervise their children’s use of the Internet. This week’s column was designed by Sherry deLeon, Julie O’Hare, Anna Manring and Stan Woo-Sam.


The answer to this Internet quiz can be found in the sites at right.

Who wrote “The Invisible Man”?

Clue: See Literary Calendar--An Almanac of Literary Information.

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Answer to last week’s Quest:

Florida and North Dakota are the two states that have the fewest earthquakes.