Using Children’s Picture Book

Author Study
Enhance Literacy

Vicki L. Ardisana


Author study ideas
[The objective would be for students to use their library skills to find and focus on the works of one author. There are endless possibilities at various developmental levels for reinforcement of standards and objectives in many content areas. At the very least, studying one author gives students an opportunity to think of themselves as authors and to learn what writers do and to provide individual choices through a wide range of readabilities.]

To listen to the how-to presentation of this lesson, click here.

Basic directions:
Find an author who has a least 3 books in this library (library and research skills).
Skim, scan, read the books with a partner or group of three.

Things to look at:
Characters, copyright, sequence, time, place, illustrator’s point of view, style
Do the illustrations support the author’s story or does the illustrator have his/her own story to tell?

Things to look for:
Storyline, message, themes, Lifeskills, lessons
Who the characters are – type, same throughout all the books?
Similarities and differences

Things to do:
Focus on reading
Explore, discover, compare/contrast,
Check the encyclopedia for biographical information on the author.
Reinforce, explicitly teach, reading skills

Open ended questions to guide the experience:

What type of books does this author write?

Who are the characters? Are the main characters the same or different in the books that you found/read?

Is the setting similar in all or some of the books? If so, why do you think the author chose this particular setting?

Are there particular messages that the author wants to voice?

Are the characters similar? Compare and contrast the main characters in 2 of the books (short stories).

If you put this author’s books in chronological order by copyright date, does a pattern emerge?  If so, how might you characterize this author’s writing development or sequence?

Use an encyclopedia to look up information about the author, or see if there is a biography (or auto biography) for this author. What in the author’s life might have influenced his or her writing? What was happening historically in the author’s home country at the time of his/her major works?

Did the author publish works in more than one genre?

What do the author’s books tell you about the author’s culture?
Extension ideas by grade level band:

Primary + grades
Illustrations - support of character development
Making predictions
Using cloze passages for emergent literacy/vocabulary
Career opportunities
Problem solving and safety

Intermediate grades
Examine descriptive language used by author to have the reader visualize the setting
Point of view – does the author tell the story through a narrator, one character, etc.
Extend the author study concepts to genre studies
    Folk tales and tall tales
    Cross cultural fairy tales
    Fantasy stories
Critical thinking skills
Summarizing, paraphrasing
Use technology to research your author on the World Wide Web

Music teachers can also use this type of study concept to examine lyrics of song writers such as Oscar Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim; or lyrics in categories of songs, show tunes, spirituals, hymns, patriotic songs, etc.

Middle School to High School and Adult
Identify themes
Author’s bias – how personal views influence approach to content
Research and analysis
Literature concepts; symbolism, analogy, alliterations, anthropomorphism
Cultural and historical influences on literature
Author’s craft, elements of style

Children’s picture book authors                                              
Base, Graeme
Baylor, Byrd
Berenstein, Stan & Jan
Brett, Jan
Bridwell, Norman
Brown, Marc
Brown, Margaret
WiseBurton, Virginia
Cannon, Jannell
Carle, Eric
DePaola, Tomie
Johnson, Crockett
Lionni, Leo
Loebel, Arnold
Meyer, Mercer
Milne, A. A.
Numeroff, Laura
Peet, Bill
Pfister, Marcus
Potter, Beatrix
Rey, H. A. & Margret
Scieszka, Jon & Smith, Lane
Shannon, David
Stevenson, James
Suess, Dr. (Geisel, Theodore)
Tang, Greg
Van Allsburg, Chris
Viorst, Judith  
Short stories, short novelists
 Cleary, Beverly
Cormier, Robert
Dahl, Roald
George, Jean Craighead
Lewis, C. S.
Lowry, Lois
O’Keefe, Frank
Paulsen, Gary
Rowling, J. K.
Rylant, Cynthia
Sachar, Louis
Warner, Gertrude Chandler
Wilder, Laura Ingalls

Carroll, Lewis
Kipling, Rudyard
Poe, Edgar Allen
Prelutsky, Jack
Silverstein, Shel
Stevenson, Robert Louis
Whitman, Walt


Web links to authors and other ideas

Eric Carle
Jan Brett
Marc Brown
Leo Lionni
Rey’s Curious George

A list of authors through this writer’s workshop page:

Yahooligans very extensive list: