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Friday, March 9, 2012

Author Study: A Powerful Mentor

Slice of Life Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers
Slice of Life - March 9th

Author Study Power!

For the past week, my kindergarten students have been wrapped up in an Anna Dewdney author study.  They love Llama Llama and can't wait to see what he's up to in each new book. 

We started with Llama Llama Red Pajama, which quickly became a new favorite.  After I read the book, I asked my students, "What did you notice?"  Since we had been learning about onomatopoeia (noise words) before starting to read Anna's books, students noticed those words right away.  They also noticed that most of the words were black but a few were red.  Of course, we discussed this idea further:

Me: "Why do you think the author did that?"

"Maybe she likes red!"

"Maybe she wanted us to read those words really loud!"  (He was remembering how Mo Willems makes some words large when the characters are yelling!  Hello, text-to-text connection...nice to see you!) 

And then it happened.  My little rock star raised her hand and said:
"Maybe those are important words and she wanted us to know that."

Ding! Ding! Ding!  I explained that I thought Anna Dewdney wanted to be sure we, the readers, noticed those words. 

And then, rock star #2 said, "I guess those words must be important words!"  Yep...atta boy!

The next day found us reading Llama Llama Mad At Mama, which the kids enjoyed even more than the last book.  They laughed and giggled with delight as little Llama threw a fit in the store!  They loved the picture of the pasta, clothing, juice and paper towels flying through the air.  It was pure joy to read this book to them!

After reading, I asked, "What did you notice in this book?  What did Anna Dewdney do this time?"

"She used those colored words again!"
"Yeah, colors for the important words again!"

Rock star #3 had something different in mind.  Her hand was a bit tentative as she raised it.  She said, "I liked the part where Llama is in the shopping cart and he looked mad."

Ah, yes my child.  Tell me more!

Me: "How did you know he was mad?  How did Anna do that?"
"His lip was sticking out like this [enter perfect pouty face here]." 
"His head was tipped down like he was kinda sad."
Rock star #4: "Anna draws Llama so that he looks real!  Like he is really mad at his mama!" 

Total teacher delight!

Fast forward to day three of the author study.  We had just finished reading Llama Llama Misses Mama and gone off to begin writer's workshop.  Mr. Rock Star #5 raised his hand, he wanted to read me his book.

As I listened to him read the title, I knew I was in for something special. 

Title: My Brother Is A Brat
Page 1: My brother punched me in the face.
"Wait...I need to fix my picture!  I made a happy face on me but I was mad when he punched me."
"What would you like to do?"
"I need to erase my face and draw a mad face...can you get me the eraser please?"

You betcha!  He fixed up his picture and continued reading me his story.  The next day he shared his book with the class on the document camera.  The kids sat and listened with interest as he read his story to them.  Then he told about how he had accidentally drawn a smile on his face but he changed it to a mad face because he wanted his people to look like they really felt..."just like Anna Dewdney does in her Llama Llama books!"

Ahh...the power of an author study. 


  1. Perfect! Those little "What did you notice?" tell us so much. I love this glimpse inside your classroom and watching how they take in the information. Then the prize is how it shows up in their writing. So cool!!

  2. Love all the dialogue, it's like I am right there listening in (fly on the wall)! Your enthusiasm for author study really comes through in this piece. What lucky students you have. :)