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collage of portraits of well-known children's authors

Culminating Projects

Once students have read and discussed an author’s books, it’s time to have them demonstrate what they’ve learned. There are dozens of ways that students can respond to an author’s work — here’s a list of some great possibilities.

Create a class book based on the students’ responses to the author’s work

This is a perfect activity for a classroom author study.

Create a display highlighting an author’s life and work

This can be an individual, group or classroom project. Students can include photos of the author and his/her book covers, typed quotations from the work, copies of illustrations from the books, as well as other decorative touches that show an author’s focus (for example, mice for Kevin Henkes, a stack of history books for Candace Fleming, or frogs and pigs for David Wiesner.)

Create a magazine cover about the author, featuring their photograph and then headlines giving a taste of their books and biography

Or have students create an entire magazine with a series of articles about an author. This could work well with a group, as each student could contribute an article and collaborate on the cover.

Publish a special edition

Ask students to create a newspaper with news and feature stories related to the characters, themes and settings of an author’s work.

Create a video review of an author’s work

Students can use a “flip camera” or other easy-to-use video camera to record each other’s reviews of an author’s work. Students should have written the reviews first, then had then edited by the teacher. When filming the videos, students should hold up a copy of the book they are reviewing.

Develop a timeline about the author

This can show biographical details as well as well as information about the books he/she has published. Adding photos and art to the timeline would strengthen its value and interest.

Dramatize a scene from one of the books

This is a great project for small groups. In choosing which scene to dramatize, students can display their insight into an author’s work. For picture books, consider having the students create a “Reader’s Theater” piece from the entire book, transforming the story into a theater script. Invite other classes to see these dramatizations, and consider scheduling a night performance for parents to attend. Videotape the performances, if possible, to use for future classes.

Have students present their author studies to the class

Have students create some visuals — a display board, PowerPoint presentation or even a brief skit — as they show their classmates what they’ve learned about an author.

Host a party based on an author’s books

Invite students to dress up as characters from the books and serve food, if appropriate, that connects with the books. Obviously, this is most easily done if you’ve done a classroom author study. But it can be done with group or individual author studies by setting aside time for each student to make a brief presentation about their character. (A variation on this theme, taken from “The Author Studies Handbook” is to have a “setting” party, in which students transform the classroom into a setting from one of an author’s books).

Make music

Turn some of an author’s work into a musical and/or dance performance.

Create a literary social network

Have students create Facebook profiles for various characters.

Play a trivia game

This could be done “Jeopardy”-style, with someone giving the answer and student contestants vying to provide the correct question. Or create a “bingo” game using an author’s characters, themes, plot, setting, etc.

Publish a newspaper about the author

Try to have students write articles for all the different sections. For example, have them write a letter to the editor in the voice of a particular character. If there are any sports involved in an author’s books, have students create sports stories about the characters. Students can even do horoscopes for characters, ads for things that characters might use or need, promos for movie or TV versions of a book, and, of course, book reviews.

Read aloud favorite passages from an author’s books

This is a great way for students to practice their reading fluency.

Schedule an “author fair”

Use the display boards created by students, have them create and practice a brief speech about their author and then invite the rest of the school, parents and others to come to the fair.

Write a fan letter to the author

This project is perfect for individual, group or classroom author studies. Have students mention specific characters and say why they are such favorites. Or have them talk about particular themes found commonly in an author’s work.

Create a comic

Students can storyboard and illustrate a graphic novel sequel or prequel to one of the author’s books.

Write a letter to a character in one of the author’s books

Students can create their own illustration of the character, then display the letter and the illustration on a poster board. Variation: students can write a letter to a character in the same style as the author.