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collage of portraits of well-known children's authors

10 Reasons to Do an Author Study

1. Help students develop their reading skills

Author studies necessarily require lots of reading, giving kids plenty of opportunities to improve their reading fluency. In addition, teachers can use author studies to individualize reading instruction by grouping students according to their reading levels and helping them choose an appropriate author to study.

2. Build critical thinking skills

With author studies, students learn to compare and contrast themes, analyze text and illustrations, and make connections between an author’s life and his/her work and between the author’s work and the reader’s own life and work.

3. Improve writing skills

An author becomes a “writing mentor” for readers as they read and study his/her work and respond to it through a variety of writing. This “mentoring” and students’ writing responses can help kids build confidence in their writing and can even inspire them to become authors themselves.

4. Forge a deeper attachment to books

Kids often bond with “their” author, which makes reading a more personal, fulfilling experience. Kids may even want to read books that influenced their author, further expanding their reading experience.

5. Establish a community of readers

Author studies help classes, and even whole schools, form closer connections through shared reading experiences.

6. Expose kids to different types of literary voices and styles

Like adults, many kids prefer a particular kind of book, such as non-fiction, series fiction, fantasy, etc. An author study can be used to persuade kids to branch out. In addition, some authors, including Newbery Medalists Avi and Lois Lowry, write in a variety of literary genres, which makes it easy for kids who do author studies on them to try out different types of reading.

7. Boost information literacy skills

A key component of author studies is researching an author’s life and work, using print and online resources. This research provides a built-in opportunity for teachers to teach information literacy skills, especially how to find information sources and determine if they are credible.

8. Plug in easily to the curriculum

Teachers can do a short or long author studies, depending on available time.

9. Make connections across the curriculum

Choosing a non-fiction author is the easiest way for teachers to connect science, math and/or history units with their language arts teaching. But these connections also can be made using elements of a fiction author’s books (i.e., setting in a particular time or place, animal or historic characters).

10. Add fun to the school day!

Author studies are an entertaining way to spark students’ life-long interest in reading, a particularly important factor for new readers and reluctant readers.