Author studies are a fantastic way to introduce students to quality literature, and there are so many ways to work them into the teaching routine. For me, using carefully selected books and authors as mentor texts for writing offers my students the opportunity to develop the reader's eye by analyzing text features, author's craft, and the Six Traits of writing. I noticed a much more sophisticated attitude toward literature as the year progressed last year, and I think that's because we had very thoughtful discussions about how and why the authors I selected chose to describe scenes as they did.
Ezra Jack Keats is a classic. It's hard to believe that this is the 50th Anniversary of The Snowy Day. I remember it as a child. I have used his books with my students for many years and enjoy sharing that connection with them. I have sets of A Snowy Day (of course), Whistle for Willie, and Peter's Chair, and each year, my students love them. In preparing this post, I learned something I never knew before. Ezra Jack Keats was an accomplished French artists prior to writing and illustrating children's books. In fact, he ended up working with children's books almost by accident.
The book I am highlighting is...
Peter's birthday party is coming up, and he is so excited. Yet, one day, he seems upset. He shares with his mom that he wants to invite Amy even though most of the kids will be boys. He decides to write her a letter in order to avoid asking in person. He takes the letter to the mailbox, and low and behold, guess who is there? Amy! Peter panics because he doesn't want Amy to see the letter. He wants it to be a surprise. Unfortunately, the letter blows away and the reader is left wondering whether she ends up getting the letter or going to the party. Children will enjoy this book. It includes two of their favorite topics, friendship and parties!
Pat Cummings, another fantastic author for teachers to explore, had this to say about A Letter to Amy and about Ezra Jack Keats. I think it is SO true!
- Visit Ezra Jack Keats Official Website for lots of author information, story introductions, and related activities.
- Read along with and/listen to A Letter for Amy through Youtube [here]
- Check out Scholastic's resources [here]
- Practice letter writing. Set up a class post office system where a student delivers the mail each day.
In addition to these activities, I am glad to share this preview of a full guided reading unit.
You can also purchase the full unit for $4.00. Here's a preview of the unit.
|Includes a birthday cake craftivity, glyph, and writing project|
Have a fantastic summer!