South Dakota Organizations: Apply by April 2 to Host One Book SD Author Melanie Benjamin for a Virtual Conversation!

Benjamin to Discuss 'The Children's Blizzard'

SDHC is now accepting applications from South Dakota organizations to host virtual conversations with 2021 One Book South Dakota Author Melanie Benjamin. SDHC selected Benjamin's acclaimed historical novel, The Children's Blizzard, as the 2021 One Book in January.

What Is the One Book Author Tour?

Since 2003, the One Book program has encouraged people across South Dakota to read and discuss the same book through the year. Groups receive the current selection on loan from the SDHC lending library and host a SDHC scholar for their event.

The annual One Book South Dakota Author Tour provides South Dakotans opportunities to attend a locally supported event featuring the One Book author. Tours, which have featured national bestselling authors like William Kent Krueger and J. Ryan Stradal, include communities around the state to accommodate readers and encourage attendance. Most years, authors have appeared in person; the 2021 tour, like the 2020 tour featuring Megan Phelps-Roper, will be virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The One Book Author Tour provides an exclusive opportunity for communities to host New York Times and USA Today bestselling historical novelist Melanie Benjamin. Inspired by a ferocious storm that struck Dakota Territory in 1888, her new novel The Children's Blizzard covers events that occurred in what is now South Dakota. "Benjamin achieves a balance of grand drama and devastatingly intimate moments," said Publishers Weekly of the novel, referred to in a starred review by Booklist as a "piercingly detailed drama, riveting in its action and psychology."

Following the announcement, Benjamin appeared live on SDHC's Facebook page to discuss her book.

Who Can Host?

SDHC is pleased to invite libraries, museums, churches, and other cultural or community organizations to apply for a chance to host a virtual conversation with Melanie Benjamin. Up to nine communities will be selected to host tour events. The selection of host communities will consider Benjamin's schedule, overall geographic balance, and hosts' commitment to reaching the public.

Host Details

To engage personally with readers, Benjamin will make up to nine virtual appearances this summer. Host organizations may choose to conduct these events entirely virtually, with all audience members joining by Zoom or another online platform, or (with pandemic protocols approved by SDHC) to hold hybrid events for which some audience members gather in person with Benjamin's video projected onto a large screen. NOTE: Benjamin will appear in person at the 2021 South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood, Oct. 1-3.

Before applying, please review the below information about tour dates, scope, format, and requirements. Direct questions to

Virtual Author Tour One-Hour Event Format:

  • 10-15 min: Introduction, a brief reading, opening remarks by Benjamin
  • 20-25 min: Interview-style conversation between Benjamin and moderator
  • 20-25 min: Audience Q&A with Benjamin, facilitated by a moderator

Host Organization Responsibilities:

  • If possible, schedule a One Book discussion before the author visit:
  • IF selected for an author visit and NOT also hosting a One Book discussion, submit a $25 grant application fee to SDHC. (If you host a discussion, SDHC will waive the author visit fee; you need only pay once.)
  • Actively engage the public and promote the event within a 50-mile radius of the community.
  • Contribute in-kind support (volunteer time, technology, publicity, etc.) valued at $200 or more
  • Acknowledge funding from SDHC, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Following the event, complete an evaluation, including attendance and in-kind contribution information
  • When possible, connect attendees with a local bookseller from whom they can buy copies of The Children's Blizzard, whether in-store or online

Selected Host Organizations Receive:

  • Ten copies of The Children's Blizzard to give away (at community events or gathering places, or through local media) or otherwise use to promote interest in and encourage attendance at the tour event, or to keep in or donate to a library as a book club bag
  • Promotional resources (sample news release, poster/postcard, author bio and photo, etc.)
  • Benjamin's arrangements made and expenses paid directly by SDHC
  • If desired, moderator for discussion provided by SDHC
  • If desired, event hosting over Zoom provided by SDHC

The South Dakota Humanities Council (SDHC), the sponsor of the annual One Book Author Tour, strongly encourages all author tour host applicants also to apply to host a One Book discussion, which will provide books from SDHC's lending library and, if desired, a scholar to lead the discussion. This discussion should be held before the author's visit. Discussion program applications are available on the One Book South Dakota page.

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