Grade: Elementary
Subject: Literature

#1517. Robert Munsch author study

Literature, level: Elementary
Posted Mon Jan 17 15:04:29 PST 2000 by Lisa/2/CT (
Lebanon Elementary School, Lebanon, CT

Robert Munsch
An author study

(Robert Munsch's website,, is an excellent place to learn more about the author and to find out where his story ideas come from. Munsch also has a collection of poems he wrote, especially for kids. Excellent site.)

Day 1
v Focus: what makes a book funny?
v Reading Material: Thomas' Snowsuit
v Format: independent reading or partner choral reading
v Introduction: Introduce the author study with a Type 1 writing activity. Pose the question, "What makes a book funny?" Students write for 3 minutes on this topic. Share responses and make a list of ideas to refer to throughout the author study. (Ex. What characters do, what they say, what they look like, jokes, silly things, etc) Show the cover of Thomas' Snowsuit. Invite predictions about the story problem and main characters. Point out the expressions on the mother's face and on Thomas' face. Why do you think they look that way? What might they be thinking? Read aloud information on where Robert Munsch got the idea for this story. Explain that Munsch is a storyteller first, before he is a writer. He makes up stories on the spot for kids he is with.
v Purpose for reading: noting what is funny
v Discussion: After reading: students write down which parts they thought were funny. Share with group and relate to items on chart. Add new ideas where needed. (ex. Character expressions, the unexpected, the problem itself . . .)
v Closure: (if time allows, students enjoy doing a whole class choral reading of this story. Teacher reads the narrative text, and the students read the dialogue, with much expression. They love it.)

Days 2 and 3
v Focus: becoming familiar with Robert Munsch's style of writing
v Reading Material: collection of books by Robert Munsch
v Format: independent or partner choral reading
v Introduction: Review the "What Makes a Book Funny?" chart started yesterday. Explain to students that they will spend the next two days reading other books by Robert Munsch and thinking about what makes them funny. Items will be added to the chart as needed. (Read aloud another Munsch title, sharing info on where the idea came from.)
v Activity: Students choose a book, read it, and record the title and rating (1-4) on their recording sheet. Repeat for next book chosen. Students spend the entire time over the next two days reading as many Robert Munsch books as they can.
v Purpose for reading: to notice what makes the book funny, and what makes a "Robert Munsch" book
v Discussion: Students can do a quick "booktalk" of their favorite title so far to a small group.
v Closure: Share thoughts on Munsch books so far. Add anything to the chart?

Day 4 - writing a book response (if you don't feel comfortable with this procedure, feel free to email me and I'll share my activities for introducing book responses)
v Focus: individual responses to Munsch titles
v Reading Material: collection of Robert Munsch books
v Format: independent
v Introduction: Review chart, "What We Can Write About Books", created earlier in the year. Go over examples of each type of response and how to write a quality response.
v Activity: Students choose one book they have read so far and write a response.
v Purpose for reading: reread, if necessary
v Closure: do "human graph" on which book chosen the most, fewest; can move to representational graph

Day 5
v Focus: sharing book responses
v Reading Material: written book response and book chosen
v Format: small group, with students all having read different titles
v Introduction: Review with students how to share and discuss in a whole group. Have one student model listening and one model reading. Discuss response, showing good manners and respectful listening.
v Activity: students share their responses in their small groups and discuss
v Purpose for reading: to share ideas
v Closure: students can share their types of responses, add new ones to chart if needed
(ex. What we liked/our favorite part; I noticed that . . .; I wondered . . . ; text-to self connection, text-to-text connections, text-to-world connections; humor, etc)

Day 6
v Focus: Robert Munsch's Fingerprints
v Reading Material: collection of previously read Munsch books
v Format: independent or partner
v Introduction: Ask students if they think they could identify a Robert Munsch book now by only reading part of it. What makes a Munsch book? Encourage students to brainstorm a list of characteristics of Robert Munsch's writing. (can do this whole group, or ask students to do a Type 2 writing and come up with at least 3 or 4 ideas on their own, then add to class chart). Examples include, using NNOOO, repetition of funny parts, kids as characters, problems kids can relate to, using/showing characters from other books in a story, using sound words (blam-blam-blam), having the unexpected happen, etc
v Activity: Students become "reading detectives" and choose 4 of these 'fingerprints' and locate support for them in books they have read. They record this information on a recording sheet.
v Purpose for reading: find support for statements about Munsch's writing style
v Discussion: share support for each idea and add to class chart
v Closure: review chart and "what makes a book funny" chart created earlier in the unit. Encourage students to use these ideas to write their own Munsch-style story.

- do some graphing of the number of books the main character says "NNOOO" in; or the number of times in one book
- - graph the number of boy vs girl main characters in Munsch's books
- graph favorite books

- use the completed list of Robert Munsch's fingerprints to write another story
- try oral story telling: have someone come up with a topic and think of a story on the spot

read other Robert Munsch books, such as Love You Forever. How do they compare to his more humorous ones?

Visit Munsch's website (
- read some of the poems he wrote for particular kids; choose one to illustrate; send him an idea for a poem from your class
- read Munsch's biography - how are you similar/different?