type of author study is based on the reader’s “critical response” to the books, focusing on an author’s themes, characters, and writing, with little or no attention to the author’s life. The third type of author study is based on the reader’s own response to the books of a particular author, focusing on books can help readers relive and reflect on events in their own lives. While each of these types of author studies has its own merits, Jenkins urges teachers to consider pulling strands of all three types into their author studies, viewing an author study as a “multiple re- sponse.” In a multiple-response author study, students look at an author’s books as literature while also doing research about the author’s life. Finally, they reflect on how they personally respond to the author’s books. Think about which type of study appeals to you and fits into your curriculum needs. You should also consider what you hope your students will gain from the unit. Do you want to introduce them to new authors, or develop their research or writing skills? What will their projects be? Read the “Culminating projects” section for ideas. Answering these questions will help you design an author study unit that’s just right for your class. Choose an author Choosing an author is a crucial task in setting up an author study and there are many facets to consider. Here are some key points to think about: • Do you want to choose one author for the entire class to study? • Or do you want to create student groups (perhaps based on reading ability) and have each group study a different author? • Will you choose the author(s) to be studied, or will you give students a voice in the matter? Including students in the selection process can be a good way to engage them, but students may be less likely to choose unfamiliar authors if they choose for themselves. How old are your students? If they are in early elementary school, then a picture book author might be best. A picture book author can also be a good choice for older students who are interested in illustration or if you, as the teacher, are interested in boosting your students’ visual literacy or prompting
The Author Study Toolkit 5 Visit us at: students’ own writing. A related point: studying a picture book author might work well for reluctant or struggling readers; there are some picture book authors, such as Patricia Polacco, who tackle mature themes using the picture book format. Authors like Jacqueline Woodson, Kevin Henkes, and Jane Yolen, who write across genres and reading levels, are good choices for author studies. Create an author study center in your classroom • Choose a corner or other place where you can keep and display books for the author study.
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