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Author Studies

Compiled By: luv2teach77

Author studies are a great way to expose your students to a variety of books written by the same author. Here's a collection of ideas when planning author studies to use in your classroom.

author studies
Posted by: Kathleen

Here are a couple ideas: 1)have students create a bulletin board that depicts the author's books and life. 2)Students dress as their favorite character out of the author's book and act a scene out or give author information. 3) Students partner up and read books by the author and compare/contrast writing styles of the author (similar plots, patterns in the writing, could they be life experiences of the author, etc.)

Author Study
Posted by: Anna

I have an awesome book from Scholastic that has 60 author profiles in it (30 picture book authors and 30 chapter book authors). The ISBN# is 0-590-49097-4. It is called Meet the Authors and Illustrators- 60 creators of favorite children's books talk about their work. It has a bio of the author, where they are from, picture of the author, and a bit about their inspiration as a writer and why they do it. I bought it at a garage sale from a retiring teacher, but it was printed in 1991 so I don't know if it is still in publication. I have also done studies on Tomie dePaola, Dr. Suess (reading "Oh The Places You'll Go" on the first day of school), and Eric Carle (we do a great collage art activity with him).

ideas on author studies
Posted by: Rebecca

All three of these authors have great websites. We start each author study by "meeting" the author. This is just gathering and reviewing background info. We might map where they were born; maybe even compare that to where they live now. Patricia Polacco is my favorite. I love her books!
In each author study, I group students in small groups (4 or 5 students). Each group takes one of the author's books and reads it together. I might give them a "question card" for them to fill out. They present their book to the class(they might make a poster, do a skit, cereal book ad [I'll be happy to share this idea if you have never seen this one--CUTE!]whatever they choose). This helps everyone see a lot of the books by that author and it might spark an interest in them wanting to read it for themselves. Sometimes, we might not present the books and I just let them rotate reading each.

Polacco's website has pictures from her books and you can print them out. I pasted them on posterboard and laminated them. There might be questions for each group's picture(s). We talk about the illustrations and the medium used. I have even had them do a compare/contrast activity (use a venn diagram)with books by that author. We talk about what goes into making a book (I have a website that I like on that activity--I will have to get back to you on that). Polacco's website "takes you to work" with her.

With Kellogg, I like to take a book that he has written (like Johnny Appleseed) and compare it to another story of J. Appleseed by another author. His illustrations are great too. My kids can pick out books that these authors have written without looking at their names because they can distiguish by the pictures.

Tomie Depaola does a lot with culture and traditions (holidays). I love these! Also, his wordless picture book about pancakes is good to let the whole class fill in the text for it and rewrite the book and illustrate it. We have a pancake breakfast in the fall so I do that then. I have lots of activities for his book,Strega Nona but they are out of my reach this summer.
Hope these help you!

author studies
Posted by: patty

I teach first grade and I do author studies in a very simple way, not too detailed, but the kids get to appreciate the author and their books very much.

I put up a picture and facts about the author, list of books written and illustrated. From the www sight of the author I print out "did you know" facts about the author and their writing.

For Eric Carle I pointed out illustrations about his tissue art. I talked a lot about his patterning at the beginning of his books and end, the inside of the covers of his books. At the end of reading Eric Carle's books, I give each first grader a sheet of tissue paper and we "make patterns" on it with a paint brush, a repeated design, or a simple picture. we talk about not getting the paper too wet.
when it is all dry, we gather all the tissue paper in one pile, I cut it into 1/8th rectangle pieces, and the kids collectively use pieces of tissue paper to decorate a picture on a white paper or whatever color construction paper.
We "rip with our hands" different sizes or carefully use scissors. The kids really enjoy it.

jan brett
Posted by: chris

Jan Brett is my favorite author to do an author study on. So many of her books take place around the holidays so you are at the perfect time of year. First of all, she has the most amazing website I could spend all day there. It is filled with ideas for all of her books. You can find out everything you need to know there.

I concentrate on her illustrations and her use of borders. The borders often tell their own stories. Her website also includes inside info on her books. Depending on how technology savy your school is, her site includes web videos of her which are really neat. Your students can do their own search on her site and email her. You can also email her and request a teacher pack, it may not come in time, but it is great to have.

I read a different story everyday during read aloud time. If there is a story I want to work on certain concepts with, I may read it a few times. Depending on the grade level you can do anything from coloring sheets to illustrating thier own stories with borders. She is an amazing author and illustrator, I am sure you will have a great time! Good luck and have fun!

Author Study
Posted by: Kate

There are lots of great children's authors to pick from. How about Jan Brett. She has her own web page (as do many others). There have been many lesson plans based on her books. For example, "The Mitten" is a fun winter story. Can you tell it is snowing where I am right now? Some ideas:
*Read the story
*Retell the story with props
*Graph/Tally favorite animal from the story
*Write addition sentences as each animal enters the mitten (There were 2 animals in the mitten, along came the ___, how many animals are in the mitten now? 2+1=3)
*Using a precut mitten, list words beginning with /m/ or write a list of winter words
*Retell the story and change the ending of the story. Maybe the mitten did not burst open, who enter the mitten next? What if the mitten was not found at the end of the story?
There are so many possibilities.
Take another story by Jan Brett and brainstorm some reading/math activities.

author studies
Posted by: Rebecca

I too do author studies and my students LOVE them! I do one each grading period. Some that I love are Patricia Polacco, Steven Kellogg, Jan Brett, Marc Brown, Eric Carle, Peggy Parish, Kevin Henkes, Mem Fox, Beverly Cleary. We study their biography, map where they were born, lived, etc. We usually get into small groups and each take a book, read it, and present it. We present in many ways. Some of which are skits, posters, cereal box ads, awards, floats, etc. The kids love this and they get to see many books by the author which sparks an interest to read those books. They get so excited when they spot the authors in the library! We make booklets for each author, visit their websites, gather info on the computer. These are always a favorite of my students. They hate waiting until the next grading period to do the next one. When I have brothers or sisters of former students, they ask are we going to get to do that too this year? I hope you will give author studies a try. I think your students will love it too! Good Luck!

Jan Brett Activities
Posted by: Amy

Several of my team mates and I are just finishing our Jan Brett author study. Kinderlit has an excellent project book to go with this study. Here are some of the other ideas we've done with her books.
We kicked off our lesson by reading "Hedgie's Surprise" and making Hedgie cookies-- idea found on her web site.

1. "Gingerbread Baby" --- A)We brought in gingerbread cookies and did a graphing lesson on which part they bit off first. B) We read the original version of the Gingerbread Boy and completed a Venn Diagram. C) We made indvidual books by tracing a gingerbread baby pattern and writing the story.

2. "Wild Christmas Reindeer" A) We made reindeer bags with reindeer food. B) art project: trace a foot w/o toes and both of their hands(antlers) make it into a reindeer. C) reindeer sandwiches: peanut butter sandwich cut in to triangle, pretzels for antlers, raisin for nose.

3. For "The Hat" and "The Mitten" we made a hat glyph and a mitten glyph. We also did a venn diagram comparing the two stories.

Hope these ideas help you.


Posted by: Erin

I also use Kevin Henkes for author studies. We talk about where the author gets his ideas, how he creates the illustrations, themes, and patterns or unusual way of using words in the books. Kevin Henkes tends to repeat the same structure more than once in his books (describing how chester and wilson are alike during each holiday and season, then how chester, wilson, and lilly are alike during each holiday and season at the end of the book in Chester's way) or using the phrase "Wow" that was all he could say, "wow" in Lilly's Purple Plastic purse. He also makes the text bigger, or puts it in different patterns for special effects. Eventually what we want to work up to is kids using some of these ideas in their own writing, but right now the focus is on just getting the kids to be aware that authors do what they do for a reason.

We do some activities along with the books, but not every single one. I usually create some sort of chart with the kids where they summarize some of the things that author does, and we do graphs on our favorite book etc.

A great book that looks at not just author studies, but how to use read alouds to teach your kids writing is Wondrous Words by Katie Wood Ray. Some of the activities are geared for older kids, but you can always adapt.

Author Study - Robert Munsch!
Posted by: Kathy Paxton-Williams

I recommend Robert Munsch, author of "The Paperbag Princess," "Stephanie's Ponytail," "I Love You Forever," and many, many more. Last Spring my third graders and I made a chart of similar themes found in Robert Munsch books, then I had them read some of his books on their own (I got the books from the local library). They wrote the title of the book just read on a sticky note, and placed the sticky note wherever appropriate on the chart. We also read "From Far Away" and wrote our own "From Far Away" stories (my kids all speak another language at home). We made a class book, and I took pictures of the pages and typed them verbatim to send to the author. He was very nice, replied with a nice letter to my students, and sent them autographed copies of his books (one per student!).

If you have any questions, feel free to email me!

Posted by: JAP

I have an Authors Corner in my room. Every couple of weeks I change the featured author. It could be Dr. Suess, Eric Carle, Leo Leoni, Lois Ebhert, Marc Brown etc.... Only books by the featured author are on that shelf. I usually put a picture of the author up with his name. The book orders from scholastic have had an authors picture and a short interview in them each month. We have wrtten letters to authors letting them know that we appreciate the work they do. We have recieved many nice letters back! It is great that the children can see the face behind the books. We read the story as a group and discuss what we liked, what we didn't and what we would change about the book. We do many art & writing activites based on the auhor of the week. We have a "publishing company" at our school and at the end of the year our "featured authors" are the children in the class. Our school library/PTA also has authors visit the school to read and talk with the children. Hope this helps....

I love Eve Bunting!
Posted by: m&mTeach

I used her books a ton last year with my third graders. I never really did an author study but we kept returning to her books over and over to talk about her writing moves and to analyze the decisions she made as an author. We especially loved . . . Fly Away Home, Cheyenne Again, Sunshine Home, The Wednesday Surprise, Rudi's Pond, Your Move.

As a reader, we examined feeling empathy for the characters. "What would you feel, think, do if you were in the characters shoes?" The richer my students' responses became the deeper their understanding seemed to be. This is great to do with her books because she writes about characters that are so real in situations that mirror real life (a lot of her books do not have a "happy ending" but rather a revelation of a human experience. In addition, she doesn't give anything away. You have to do a lot of inferring to understand the characters in her books.

As a writer, we explored "showing not telling." For the same reason as the one mentioned above. Eve Bunting, show you in SUBTLE ways how characters are feeling and what they must be thinking. She shows you in the way they do things, in the things they say and in the way they say things.

We also explored her use of "symbolism." In Fly Away Home, she uses a bird to represent "hope" or "freedom." There's some symbolism in her other books too.

I hope these ideas are helpful.

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author study
Posted by: becky

Are you looking for activities to go with some of their books? If so - With The Bubble Factory by Tomie de Poala you could do this fun bubble art activity. After reading have students invent their own cool bubbles. They could write a paragraph describing what they do or they could write an advertisement to sell them. Next mix some food coloring and bubble solution in a bowl; I use 4 bowls for the 4 different colors. Have students dip their wand into the solution and blow bubbles onto a square of white paper. The results are an awesome bubble art project. I hope this helps.

Cynthia Rylant author study
Posted by: gagirl

For our author study we made a lapbook on Cynthia Rylant. (search on yahoo for a description of a lapbook, they are quite neat!)
We used the books:

When I was Young in the Mountains: we used a Venn diagram to compare things that were used in the book, such as a johnny house to our bathroom, etc.

Cookie Store Cat: we made a minibook describing what a cookie looks like, smells like and taste like.

Tulip Sees America: we used a map of the US and colored in the states Tulip visited along with drawing a picture representing the state.

The Old Woman Who Named Things: make a minibook with clipart of the teapot, clock, window and named them. (Tiny Tia Teapot, Clumsy Charlie Clock etc...)

We also made a book about Cynthia Rylant, books she has written, some bio on her.

It turn out great and was a lots of fun to do.

First Grade Author Study
Posted by: Rosemary

I, too, love Tomie dePaola. I recently read one of my favorites of his many good ones "Tony's Bread" with my First Grade Class. I read the story and then gave them a sample tasting of the real Pannettone Bread. It is a fun thing to do this time of the year when Pannettone is in all the stores. The children loved the story; some loved the bread, other's did not.

author of the month activites
Posted by: Allie

I also do author of the month. I pick an author sometimes the month of their birthday and we celebrate it. We write the author a letter. We learn about the illustrator that they work with and try to do some of their style of artwork. Johnathan London will write your class back! We also do some graphing about whick book of theirs we like best. We will try to find a video also about them. (Eric Carle has a lot out). Those are some things we do. I dont really have time for much else! In the monthly Carson Dellorosa teaching books their is usually author ideas for second grade. I got some cute projects to go with some books.

Author studies
Posted by: Debbie

Hi there,
The length of time my author / genre studies last depends upon the author and student interest. As they read books by the author, I designed a form to record the titles read. They learn about their life, awards and what influenced him/her to become an author. At the end of the study, they choose their favorite book, and draw a scene from it using the illustrator's style and medium. They add a literature reaction to the picture and these get hung around the author's photo and information. We choose four of our favorite books to compare and contrast on a huge piece of butcher paper. Each quarter/semester, we compare/contrast different authors. Doing author/genre studies allows the opportunity to explore varied writing styles, to easily tie to your writing mini lessons...If you want info on the categories or additional information, please post or email. ;-D

Author addresses
Posted by: Carolf

I found it! A book I have used and found very helpful for writing to authors is: The Address Book of Children's Authors and Illustrators:Corresponding with the Creators of Children's Literature by R.Howard Blount Jr.
This book features over 100 authors and illustrators who have been surveyed and enjoy correspondence. The book has pictures of them and short biographies. Also, it has VERY helpful hints on proper letter writing skills, tips and information. It was written by a teacher and I highly recommend it. Also, I found parent volunteers to be very useful in checking student letters and helping 1:1 to get envelopes addressed properly. I have solicited donations from parents for stamps and had fairly good luck. Have fun! Watch your mailbox!