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Children's Author Study: A Homeschool Unit Study

Updated on August 14, 2013

Children's Books Author Study

The goal of this unit is to encourage lifelong love of reading through familiarity with the artistry of authors and illustrators. This unit can help children at many different ability and age levels to come to understand that there are real people behind the books we read, and all books at all levels have artistic voices and styles that can be recognized and enjoyed. No longer will older children voice, "That's a baby book!" Intermediate and upper grade children will perceive picture books on a new level of appreciation.

In this lens, you'll find links to author & publisher websites, suggestions for 'living books', and lesson plans that you can easily implement into your curriculum.

Children's Authors / Illustrators - The authors & illustrators featured on this lens include:

  • Scott O'dell
  • Mem Fox
  • Jean Craighead George
  • Jan Brett
  • Jim Arnosky
  • Avi
  • Bryd Baylor
  • Lyndsay Barrett George
  • Steven Kellogg
  • Eric Carle
  • Robert Munsch
  • Ingri D'Aulaire and Edgar D'Aulaire
  • Gary Paulson

The Joy of Reading

My All-time Favorite Children's Books - I consider these to be must-reads for adults and children alike.

What is Your Experience? - How familiar are you with author / illustrator studies?

Have you done an author or illustrator study previously?

See results

The Steps to a Great Author / Illustrator Study - How do I begin? What do I do?

  1. Read aloud a number of titles by the same author (or illustrator). Before beginning each title, allow time for the child to predict what the book will be about (using the title and cover illustrations for context clues).
  2. Create a chart to analyze the attributes of the books read (characters, setting, problem, events, solution, illustration, etc.). When finished, discuss the following questions: What do all of these books share? What does that tell you about the author? Make a list, as a class, of questions that we would like to ask the author.
  3. Write a letter to the author / illustrator. You may wish to use the prototype or model (available from my files at Homeschool Launch). Discuss what are appropriate and inappropriate questions.
  4. Write a letter to a character in the book. Ask the child, "If you could write to a character in this book, what would you write?" Makes for a fun display, especially when combined with the book cover.
  5. Have child set up a display and do a presentation. Presentations will include a five to ten minute read aloud (reading level appropriate), authors of longer fiction or non-fiction may be excerpted. Presentation should be prefaced or concluded by biographical information about the author. Don't forget the video camera!

    Alternative: You may wish to do an "Artist Fair" the way some schools do a "Science Fair". Involve other homeschool families and set up displays / project boards at the local library.

Reading Buddies

Getting to Know the Author - Sample questions that you may want to consider as you delve into your study

  • What kind of books does the author write?
  • In what country do most of the stories take place?
  • Who encouraged him / her to become a writer?
  • How old was he / she when he / she began to write?
  • What got him / her started in children's literature?
  • Where does he / she currently live?
  • Does he / she still write?

Integrating Other Subjects - How can I integrate other subjects into our studies?

  • Art Connections

    1. Create a work of art in the style of the illustrator. Here is an example of how to use Polymer Clay by illustrator Jeanette Canyon.

    2. Make puppets and present your favorite title to your family and friends.

  • Science Connections

    1. Classify the animals in the story in the according to phylum or order name.

    2. Investigate why photosynthesis is important to the plants, animals and people.

    3. Investigate how the geograpical location of the story effects the climate and how do people and animals adapt?

  • History Connections
  • Math Connections
  • Language Arts Connections

    1. Create a lapbook.

    2. Write a letter to the author or illustrator. A sample or prototype letter can be downloaded from my files at Homeschool Launch.

  • Social Studies / Multicultural Connections

    1. Make a salt map of which ever country the book was about. Then paint it with the appropriate colors to show its geographical terrain.

    2. If a tale came from a particular culture, do some research on that tribe and report back in any format you prefer (video, pictures from National Geographics, sample of food, or make a tribal craft).

Books by Jim Arnosky - A selected few of my favorite titles by Jim Arnosky

Books by Jean Craighead George - A selected few of my favorite titles by Jean Craighead George

Books by Jan Brett - A selected few of my favorite titles by Jan Brett

Who is Your Favorite?

There are many, many authors of quality children's books. I can't possibly list all here in this poll, but of the ones selected, who would you consider to be your favorite?

Which of the following authors is your favorite?

See results

Direct From the Publisher

Occasionally, the publisher provides a wealth of learning resources for all of the books they publish. Check out these publishers for lesson plans, activity suggestions to supplement their books, coloring pages and additional information about their authors and illustrators.


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