Grade: Middle
Subject: Literature

#3060. Author Study

Literature, level: Middle
Posted Fri Feb 13 11:14:10 PST 2004 by Shannon Hill (
Goshen Middle School, Goshen, Ohio
Materials Required: Library resources, Internet, posterboard, markers
Activity Time: Varies, 4-6 weeks
Concepts Taught: Students will research and explore the life and works of one author.

Students focus their attention on the study of one author's works -- not just one book, but a variety of works written by the same author -- to discover what themes and/or other commonalities might run throughout the body of one person's writings.

Note: No two students in the same class may choose the same author in order to discover as many authors as possible.

Project outline:
1. Choose an author and complete the following tasks. A list of suggested authors can be presented to students or they may choose their own. A list of possibilities follows at the end of this plan.

2. Choose and read a novel written by the author.

3. Choose and read at least two short shorts, or two children's/picture books, or eight poems by the same author. List shorts stories or picture book titles. Attach copies of each poem.

4. Find information about the author's life using at least three sources. List sources used.

5. Write a 3-5 page paper that details the author's life as well as incorporates literary style devices common in his/her works (themes, genre, etc.) Be sure to address the common themes among the author's works.

6. Create a dual timeline of the author's life that includes major events in history occurring during his/her lifetime. Timeline must be visually interesting (e.g., colorful, incorporates graphics/pictures, of appropriate size, neat) as well as accurate and complete.

7. Create a poster, display board, etc., about the author that will entice others to read works by the author. Your display should be no smaller than 18" x 20" and be visually interesting. The chosen author's name should be prominent and several titles should be displayed. Readers should be able to get a clear picture of what kind of stories the author tells by viewing your display.

8. Present displays and findings about the author's life in a 5-10 minute class presentation.

9. Select a song from an artist of choice that best represents the author or one or more of the author's works. Play the song and explain rationale for its choice at the time of the oral presentation.

Timeline and Assessment:
Students have a maximum of six weeks to complete this project. Rubrics for each portion of the project should be distributed so they know what to expect. As a way to keep students on track, checkpoint dates should be listed and met.
I assign point values to each portion of the assignment, as listed below, with a final total of 500 points possible. This can be adjusted to fit each teacher's needs.
Points Offered
Author selection 10 points Novel selection 15 points
Story/poem selection 25 points
Research sources 50 points Research paper 100 points
Timeline 75 points Poster/display 75 points
Song selection 50 points Oral presentation 100 points

Total 500 points

Possible Author Choices:
Joan Aiken
Louisa May Alcott
Maya Angelou
Eve Bunting
Beverly Cleary
Andrew Clements
Robert Cormier
Michael Crichton
Sharon Creech
Karen Cushman
Roald Dahl
Tommy dePaola
Lois Duncan
Nancy Farmer
Jack Gantos
Patrician Reilly Giff
Nikki Giovanni
John Grisham
Karen Hesse
S.E. Hinton
Alice Hoffman
Stephen King
Louis L'Amour
Madeleine L'Engle
C.S. Lewis
Lois Lowry
Sharon Bell Mathis
Walter Dean Myers
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Scott O'Dell
Katherine Paterson
Gary Paulsen
Richard Peck
Robert Newton Peck
Edgar Allen Poe
J.K. Rowling
Cynthia Rylant
Louis Sachar
Gary Soto
Jerry Spinelli
William Steig
John Steinbeck
Amy Tan
Mildred Taylor
J.R.R. Tolkien
Mark Twain
Cynthia Voigt
Alice Walker
E.B. White
Ruth White
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Laurence Yep
Jane Yolan