Falling in Love with Authors and Illustrators

Students explore the works of five award-winning authors and illustrators, Grace Lin, Yuyi Morales, John Parra, Monica Brown and Jerry Pinkney, learning about their lives and inspirations.

Unit Summary

A note from our team: As part of the upgrade to Fishtank Plus, this unit will be revised this year. Some texts, materials, and questions may change as part of the revision.

In this unit students explore and experience the works of five award winning authors and illustrators; Grace Lin, Yuyi Morales, John Parra, Monica Brown and Jerry Pinkney.  Students learn about each author or illustrator’s life and his or her inspiration for becoming an author and/or illustrator. Students will think critically and make connections between the author or illustrator’s life and the stories he or she writes or illustrates, and how each author’s unique personality is reflected in the words or pictures. By studying a wide variety of authors and illustrators, it is our hope that the foundations will be set for a life-long interest in reading and books.  Author studies help students develop a deeper attachment to books while also noticing and identifying the many different ways in which authors write.  It is also our hope that students will use the authors in this unit as writing mentors, mimicking the author’s style while also building confidence in their own writing and unique ideas. Another underlying focus of this unit is on helping students identify and explain why certain books win awards, and the types of awards that are given. In future units and grades students will read additional award winning stories written or illustrated by the different authors and illustrators from the unit. 

In reading this unit builds on the first three units and assumes that students are inquisitive consumers of text, asking and answering questions while listening to and enjoying a story.  Students will continue to work on retelling a story, including key details about setting, characters and major events. Students will also continue to be challenged to “read” the illustrations and think about how the illustrations help a reader better understand what is happening in the story. At the end of this unit, students should also be able to clearly articulate and define the role of the author and illustrator and why they are both important. 

In writing students will continue to write daily in response to the text. At this point, students should be able to draw or write an answer that correctly answers the question. In this unit, students will be challenged to details to their writing to show a deeper understanding of the question. Over the course of the unit students will also write opinion pieces about which book by the author or illustrator was their favorite and why. 

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Texts and Materials

Core Materials

See Text Selection Rationale

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • How does an author’s own life shape what and how he/she writes about? 
  • Where do authors get their ideas for writing? 
  • How do the illustrations in a book help a reader better understand a story? 
  • Why do books win different awards?

Writing Focus Areas

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In the first three units of the year students learn the routines and procedures for daily writing about reading. In this unit students will continue to write daily in response to the text with a continued focus on using a combination of drawings and words to correctly answer the question. Short mini-lessons should be included before students go to write on their own to model how to take ideas from a class discussion and turn them into pictures and words that correctly answer a question.  At this point students should be including pictures and words, and some may be ready to include more advanced ideas such as inferences, critical thinking or facts to support their answers. Due to the varying ranges in ability individualized feedback is incredibly important to ensure that students are progressing towards the target of using a combination of drawings and words to correctly answer a question. 

Language Focus Areas

  • Uses a combination of drawings and words to correctly answer the question 
  • Includes an inference, critical thinking, or facts that show basic understanding of question or text. 
  • Pick class wide or individual FCAs to focus on to help students learn the needed structures to make their writing legible 

Vocabulary

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Literary Terms

author, illustrator

Text-based

Grace Lin: attach, kite, dishes, contagious, imagination, fortune, prickly, inspiration 

Yuji Morales: disbelief, trick, misfortune, superb, contender, defeats, opponent, thrilling, boom, normal

John Parra: thankful

Monica Brown: biography, talent, famous 

Jerry Pinkney: labor, steady

Intellectual Prep

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Building Content Knowledge: 

  • Research and learn about the four main authors and illustrators from the unit. Where do they get their inspiration? What makes them unique and special? What awards have they won? Why? 
  • Find contact information for each author/illustrator in order to mail student letters. 

Internalizing Unit Standards and Texts: 

  • Read all unit texts and notice evidence of essential questions and unit priority standards. 
  • Take unit assessment and notice key understandings and skills for the unit. 
  • Brainstorm ways to make the different authors come to life in the classroom. 
    • Create author and illustrator posters with pictures, covers of books, and important facts. 
    • Find other books that are written or illustrated by the authors/illustrators for the classroom library or display. 
    • Plan learning labs that deepen understanding of authors, characters and the topics authors chose to write about. 
  • Determine a structure for book introductions that highlight the author and key unit standards. 
  • Determine habits of discussion focus for the unit using targeted speaking and listening standards as a guide. Create a plan for how to introduce and reinforce the targets during daily lessons. 
  • Introduce other author’s into the library for additional author studies. 

Content Knowledge and Connections

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  • An author is a person who writes a story. 
  • An illustrator is a person who illustrates, or draws the pictures, for a story. 
  • A person can be both an author and an illustrator. 
  • Authors use things they are passionate about in their own lives to influence what they write about. 
  • Authors often write more than one story about the same character. 
  • Authors are often recognized for their outstanding writing or illustrations. Some awards that authors can receive: 
    • The Pura Belpre Award is given to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portray, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience.  
    • The Coretta Scott King Book Award is given as a way to recognize outstanding books for young adults and children by African American authors and illustrators that reflect the African American experience. 

Assessment

This assessment accompanies this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Lesson Map

1

  • Kite Flying

    RL.K.2

    RL.K.3

    RL.K.7

Explain how the family works together to build a kite by using details and illustrations to retell key details and events in a text. 

2

  • Dim Sum

    RL.K.3

    RL.K.7

Describe dim sum and how the family feels about dim sum by using details and illustrations to retell key details and events in a text.

3

  • Fortune Cookie

    RL.K.2

    RL.K.3

    RL.K.7

Explain how the family’s fortune cookie fortunes came true and why by using details and illustrations to retell key details and events in a text.

4

  • Ugly Vegetables pp. 1 – 11

    RL.K.3

    RL.K.7

Describe how the narrator feels about her garden and why she feels that way by describing characters and major events in a story. 

5

  • Ugly Vegetables — 12-end

    RL.K.3

    RL.K.7

Explain why the narrator changes her mind about the garden and what causes the change by describing characters and major events in a story.

6

Discussion & Writing

  • Ugly Vegetables

  • Kite Flying

  • Dim Sum

  • Fortune Cookie

    W.K.1

    W.K.7

    SL.K.1

Participate in a class discussion on where Grace Lin gets her inspiration and what she likes to write about. 

Write an opinion piece about which Grace Lin story was your favorite and why by stating an opinion and supporting it with a reason. 

7

  • Just a Minute

    RL.K.2

    RL.K.3

Explain how Grandma Beetle tricks Senor Calavera and what they both learn by identifying and describing key events in a story. 

8

  • Just In Case

    RL.K.2

    RL.K.3

Describe Senor Calavera’s problem and how he solves the problem by retelling key details in a story, including the problem and how it is solved. 

9

  • Nino Wrestles...

    RL.K.2

    RL.K.3

Describe Nino and what lesson he learns by describing characters and major events in a story.

10

  • My Abuelita

    RL.K.3

Explain how the little boy feels about his grandmother and how they know by describing characters and major events in a story.

11

  • Thunder Boy

    RL.K.2

    RL.K.3

Describe why Little Thunder Boy wants a new name, what new name he gets and how the new name makes him feel by using details and illustrations to retell key details and events in a text.

12

Discussion & Writing

  • Just a Minute

  • Just In Case

  • Nino Wrestles...

  • My Abuelita

  • Thunder Boy

    W.K.1

    W.K.7

    SL.K.1

Participate in a class discussion on where Yuyi Morales gets her inspiration and what she likes to write about. 

Write an opinion piece about which Yuyi Morales story is your favorite and why by stating an opinion and supporting it with a reason. 

13

  • Green is...

    RL.K.3

    RL.K.7

Explain how the author and illustrator use different colors to help us learn about the world around us by using details and illustrations to retell key details and events in a text.

14

  • Round is...

    RL.K.3

    RL.K.7

Explain how the author and illustrator use shapes to help us learn about the world around us by using details and illustrations to retell key details and events in a text. 

15

  • Gracias Thanks

    RL.K.3

    RL.K.7

Explain what the little boy is thankful for and how the illustrations help a reader better understand what the boy is thankful for by using details and illustrations to retell key details and events in a text. 

16

  • Marvelous Cornelius

    RL.K.3

    RL.K.7

Explain how John Parra uses the illustrations to help us better understand Cornelius and Hurricane Katrina by using details and illustrations to retell key details and events in a text. 

17

Discussion & Writing

  • Gracias Thanks

  • Marvelous Cornelius

  • Round is...

  • Green is...

    W.K.1

    W.K.7

    SL.K.1

Participate in a class discussion on where John Parra gets his inspiration and what he likes to illustrate. 

Write an opinion piece about which John Parra story is your favorite and why by stating an opinion and supporting it with a reason. 

18

  • Tito Puente

    RI.K.2

    RI.K.3

Describe Tito Puente and why he is famous by identifying the main topic and retelling key details of a text. 

19

  • My Name is Celia

    RI.K.2

    RI.K.3

Describe Celia Cruz and why she is famous by identifying the main topic and retelling key details of a text. 

20

  • Pele

    RI.K.2

    RI.K.3

Describe Pele and why he is famous by identifying the main topic and retelling key details of a text. 

21

  • My Name is Gabriela

    RI.K.2

    RI.K.3

Describe Gabriella and why she is famous by identifying the main topic and retelling key details of a text.

22

Discussion & Writing

  • Tito Puente

  • My Name is Celia

  • Pele

  • My Name is Gabriela

    W.K.1

    W.K.7

    SL.K.1

Participate in a class discussion on where Monica Brown gets her inspiration and what she likes to write about. 

Write an opinion piece about which Monica Brown story is your favorite and why by stating an opinion and supporting it with a reason. 

23

  • Lion and...

    RL.K.7

Describe how Jerry Pinkney uses the illustrations to help a reader better understand The Lion & the Mouse by using details and illustrations to retell key details and events in a text. 

24

  • Tortoise and...

    RL.K.7

Describe how Jerry Pinkney uses the illustrations to help a reader better understand The Tortoise & the Hare by using details and illustrations to retell key details and events in a text. 

25

  • Grasshopper and...

    RL.K.7

Describe how Jerry Pinkney uses the illustrations to help a reader better understand The Grasshopper & the Ants by using details and illustrations to retell key details and events in a text. 

26

  • The Three...

    RL.K.7

Describe how Jerry Pinkney uses the illustrations to help a reader better understand The Three Billy Goats Gruff by using details and illustrations to retell key details and events in a text. 

27

Discussion & Writing

  • Lion and...

  • Tortoise and...

  • Grasshopper and...

  • The Three...

    W.K.1

    W.K.7

    SL.K.1

Participate in a class discussion on where Jerry Pinkney gets his inspiration and what he likes to write about. 

Write an opinion piece about which Jerry Pinkney story is your favorite and why by stating an opinion and supporting it with a reason. 

28

Project

    W.K.1

    SL.K.1

Participate in a collaborative group activity to show understanding of key unit concepts. 

29

Assessment

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.K.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.K.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

  • L.K.4 — Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on kindergarten reading and content.

  • L.K.5 — With guidance and support from adults, explore word relationships and nuances in word meanings.

  • L.K.6 — Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts.

Reading Standards for Informational Text
  • RI.K.2 — With prompting and support, identify the main topic and retell key details of a text.

  • RI.K.3 — With prompting and support, describe the connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.

  • RI.K.6 — Name the author and illustrator of a text and define the role of each in presenting the ideas or information in a text.

  • RI.K.7 — With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the text in which they appear (e.g., what person, place, thing, or idea in the text an illustration depicts).

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.K.2 — With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details.

  • RL.K.3 — With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.

  • RL.K.5 — Recognize common types of texts (e.g., storybooks, poems).

  • RL.K.6 — With prompting and support, name the author and illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the story.

  • RL.K.7 — With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).

  • RL.K.10 — Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.K.1 — Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

  • SL.K.2 — Confirm understanding of a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media by asking and answering questions about key details and requesting clarification if something is not understood.

  • SL.K.5 — Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.

  • SL.K.6 — Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.

Writing Standards
  • W.K.1 — Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose opinion pieces in which they tell a reader the topic or the name of the book they are writing about and state an opinion or preference about the topic or book (e.g., My favorite book is…).

  • W.K.5 — With guidance and support from adults, respond to questions and suggestions from peers and add details to strengthen writing as needed.

  • W.K.7 — Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., explore a number of books by a favorite author and express opinions about them).

  • W.K.8 — With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.