Author Studies

This was my first experience teaching with Author Studies, and I am hooked! There is so much opportunity for rich discussion of texts, not to mention it’s like hanging out with your favorite authors for a week or so!

We covered four authors during our month of Author Studies: Mo Willems, Seymour Simon, Donald Crews and Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

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Mo Willems was an obvious choice, as our students adore Knufflebunny and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. I took a trip to the library to grab some of his lesser-known works and set up a text set in our library. We read one book by the author per day and compared and contrasted his characters and his illustrations.

ImageGood point, Mateo! Mo Willems actually shows students how to draw his famous pigeon in this .pdf – perfect for a whole-class shared drawing activity. His website has lots of great resources for kids and teachers! Our students explored the use of speech bubbles in their writing center. The week culminated in a “buddy read” with our 2nd grade friends (who just happen to adore Willem’s Elephant and Piggie early chapter books!) Check out these adorable hats that my teaching partner thought up! We made them using construction paper and sentence strips. It made everything so festive!

ImageIn an effort to weave some nonfiction into our unit, I chose Seymour Simon as our next author. His detailed photographs and broad topics made selecting books for the text set a snap. However, I can’t say that his books are especially primed for a read-aloud (read: loooong), especially running on a five year old attention span. 🙂 Gail Gibbons was also highly recommended, but I was pulled to Seymour Simon because of his real-life illustrations. In the end, I would recommend Simon for upper-grade author studies and stick with Gibbons for primary.

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The transition from Mo Willems to Seymour Simon did open up the perfect opportunity for discussing Author’s Purpose a bit (this doesn’t happen a bunch in kinder)…

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Donald Crews was also a fantastic choice for a primary author study. We had read his text Shortcut during our Personal Narrative writing unit, so the students were familiar with his style. This week we zoned in on what made Crews’ books unique and tried using similar features in our own writing.

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Our last Author Study came about in an unexpected way. A student in my partner’s class brought in several books from a family friend, including some original author’s manuscripts. I was delighted to discover that it was none other than, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, whose book Little Pea I had fallen in love with during my time teaching preschool. Apparently, she had brought them over to test-read to the children to see if they laughed when she expected. Amazing! I could go on and on about her illustrations, her witty little stories, ect. Let’s just say it was fate.

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Her stories lend themselves perfectly to a character comparison chart:

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At the end of the week, we took a vote and created a graph of which family we would like to move in with: Little Pea’s family, where they serve sweets for dinner; Little Oink’s family, where they keep things messy; or Little Hoot’s family, where you stay up late. I was surprised to see that the Hoot’s got the most votes. Good thing summer vacation is just around the corner. 🙂

What experiences have you had with Author Studies?

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