Author of the Month Program for Young Readers
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
Think about your favorite children’s book. Is it one that was read to you at bedtime when you were younger? Is it one that you discovered with your own child or class?
Now think about why you love this book. Is it because of the emotions it stirs in you when you are reading it, or is it your favorite because it is just fun to read? I personally can’t get through Love You Forever by Robert Munsch when reading it to my daughter, Ella, without tearing up, and I have the best voice for Olivia’s teacher in Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer. Munsch and Falconer have provided numerous hours of shared emotions for our family.
Through the years I’ve found that young students do not have the concept that books are written by people. So, in helping my students develop a love of literature, I created an Author of the Month program.
By introducing my students to different writers through the year, they get a feel for how different authors write. I choose different authors every year but some are perennial favorites. For instance, we always start with David Shannon. This year we will also be studying Mo Willems (another returning favorite), Eric Carle, Doreen Cronin, Laura Numeroff, and others. You can download this PDF file and print my list of authors for this year as well as a list of some of the books that they have written.
Putting Them on Display
I use the Scholastic Our Class News pocket chart to house our display, using the pockets for the author's picture and name, as well as a map showing where we live in proximity to where the author lives. We have a large map that we use to document the different author’s homes as we study them through the year. The pocket chart is great for this display because it also has pockets large enough to hold different books.
For David Shannon I have displayed No David! and Alice the Fairy. I chose these two books because No David! pulls the boys in (there isn’t a five-year-old that doesn’t want to giggle when David runs naked through the neighborhood) and Alice the Fairy speaks to girls (Fairy School… enough said).
You can order the pocket chart that my class us for your own classroom.
Fun Activities With Author of the Month
Have your class write a sequel. In previous years we have written sequels to both of Shannon’s books: Duck on a Bike (called Duck on a Tractor) and The Rain Came Down (called The Snow Came Down). Several years ago, the class’ job was to write a book like Laura Numeroff’s "If You Give" books. The class wanted to write If You Give a Sheep a Pillow. One of the students had just learned what it meant when someone said “counting sheep” and shared it with the class.
Take a fun fact and run with it. Shannon has a real dog named Fergus and he has hidden Fergus into all of his books. At the end of the month, I tell the class this very fun fact. Before revealing this about Shannon’s books, they have spent the month looking for my stuffed Fergus around the room. He could be hidden for an hour or three days. Willems hides his character, Pigeon in a lot of his books so in October they will be searching for our plush Pigeon.
Visit author websites. My class visits the computer lab each week and one week a month we watch videos of the featured author and visit their official websites. I then link those websites to my classroom webpage so that students can link to them at home and share them with their families.
Use apps. The smart phone app Aurasma offers a great way for students tell why each book is their favorite. When parents or visitors and in your room, it will make your display both personal to your classroom and interactive.
Share stories about the author’s childhood. One of my favorite stories to share is that Shannon actually wrote No, David! when he was around five years old. His mom found it packed away and mailed it to him years later. That is when he turned it into the best seller.
Select authors who have seasonal books. I’m always surprised when I read Jan Brett’s The Easter Egg a couple of months after she is our featured author because it only takes a few pages before the class begins asking me, “Is this a Jan Brett book?”
I’d love to hear your ideas for incorporating activities that celebrate authors.
I can’t wait to see you next week.