Author Study Toolkit

Author studies help students develop their reading, writing, research, and critical thinking skills as well as establish a stronger community of readers. Author studies can expose kids to different literary voices and styles and are easily integrated across the curriculum. And they’re fun! Get started planning a classroom project using our step-by-step guide. We've also included a sample author study, featuring Patricia Polacco and her books.

Mosaic of well-known children's authors

Ten reasons to do an author study

Discover 10 reasons why author study units are so valuable in building your students' literacy skills and joy of reading. From strengthening critical thinking and writing skills to exposing kids to different types of literary voices and styles, you'll find that author studies help create a community of readers in your classroom. And it's easy to customize an author study unit so that it fits into your curriculum. Get started here ›

What you’ll find in our author study toolkit

Step 1: Set a Purpose and Goals

Think about which type of study best fits into your curriculum and what you hope your students will gain from the unit. A "multiple response" approach includes research about an author's life, a look at the author's books as literature, and students' reflection on how they personally respond to the author's books. Set a purpose and goals ›

Step 2: Choose an Author

Choosing an author is a crucial task in setting up an author study and there are many facets to consider. In this section you'll discover key points to think about as students choose their authors. Choose an author ›

Step 3: Read and Respond to the Books

Before reading, introduce students to basic literacy concepts (plot, character, and setting), literary style, the balance between text and artwork, and awareness of their own response to the books. Other decisions about "read and respond" are guided more specifically by the kind of author study you are doing. Read and respond to the books ›

Step 4: Research the Authors

Start with the basics: the author's website and any autobiographical material, interviews, and speeches. From there, students can look at a wide variety of resources, including books about children's authors, encyclopedias, and online databases and directories. Research the authors ›

Step 5: 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 — in this section you'll find a list of some great possibilities. Culminating projects ›

Author Study Resources

There are many sources of information to help in your author study. Take a look at our list of books about authors and illustrators, author studies, and children's literature. The Web is a rich resource as well: browse the online resources in this section for background on authors and illustrators. You'll also find links to more online information about author studies here. Author study resources ›

Sample Author Study: Patricia Polacco

What would a real author study unit look like when you fill in the details? We've developed a sample author study using the popular author and illustrator, Patricia Polacco, as the model. Her much-loved books include Pink and Say, Thank You, Mr. Falker, and Thunder Cake. Polacco's themes are timeless and provide rich opportunities for in-depth study. Sample author study: Patricia Polacco ›

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