Compare and contrast stories by the same author.
Researching the author of a novel or short story is an excellent method to help students understand and connect with a piece of writing on a personal level. Author studies in fourth grade help students understand how authors use specific elements to create a story. In addition, students can uncover the ways in which an author’s life informs his work.
Teach students about a specific author by asking them to write a biography. Assign each student in the class an author to study. Ask students to read two works by their assigned author. In addition, request that students research facts about the author’s life through biographies, the author’s website and encyclopedias. Ask students to present their findings to the class in a short presentation, to include videos of interviews or pictures.
Compare and Contrast
Help students learn about an author’s craft through a comparison of several of that author’s works. Ask students to read several works by the same author. Encourage students to compare certain features of the author’s writing, such as word choice, tone, plot and characterization in each work. Give students a graphic organizer with two columns in order to compare and contrast important story elements to better understand how the author uses these elements to tell a story.
Let your students ask an author questions about her craft by inviting a local children’s book author to visit the classroom. Before the author visits, ask students to read books written by the author several times so that they are familiar with the author’s work. In addition, ask each student to write down several questions that they would like to ask the author about her work. Invite the author to read a few of her works to the class and talk about how she wrote her books. If possible, request that the author hold a writer’s workshop to teach aspiring writers in your classroom.
Show students how authors draw from events in their own lives to create stories. Ask students to research an author to discover details of his life by reading author biographies, studying the author’s website and reading letters or journals written by the author. Encourage students to think about how events in the author’s life might have shaped his writing. For example, students reading the book “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” might read a biography of Mark Twain to discover that Twain grew up in Missouri (as did his character Huck Finn) and used his experiences as a riverboat pilot to write about Huck’s journey down the Mississippi.