Tips for Doing Author or Character Studies

  • Choose books, authors or characters the kids already love. Maybe they heard No, David! last year, or the librarian read Chrysanthemum to them. Find an author they will connect with. 
  • Ask the kids to compare and contrast what they see before ever opening a book. Look at covers, titles, illustrations, and see what they notice about similarities and differences.
  • Read at least one book a day.
  • DON’T save these units until the end of the school year.  We all get bogged down with the requirements of the year–but the kids get SO much out of these units, including reading skills and a love of books that will increase their reading skills. 
  • Busy schedule? Do Author Mini Units several times a year. Have an area in your class dedicated to the Author Study or Character Study books so that they’re always out and available for the kids to read. Use the last 10 minutes of the day to read, do an activity from the author’s website or show a read aloud video. Use it as a reward for getting packed up and ready to go early.  
  • Combine Author Studies with other units. David Shannon books are great for beginning of the year themes, such as following school rules. Jan Brett books lend themselves perfectly to a Winter Unit. Mo Willems books are excellent for teaching Fluency. Olivia and Skippyjon Jones books encourage imagination. Doing a unit on Becoming Writers? Try incorporating David Shannon, who wrote No, David! when he was a child, or Jan Brett who has several videos on how she creates her books.

A Few of My Class’s Favorite Author and Character Studies

Olivia by Ian Falconer

Books and Comprehension Questions
Olivia by Ian Falconer                                                  
Olivia Acts Out by Jodie Shepard (adapted by)
Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer                  
Olivia and the Missing Toy by Ian Falconer            
Olivia Forms a Band by Ian Falconer
Olivia and the Fairy Princess by Ian Falconer
Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer
Olivia Counts by Ian Falconer
Olivia and the Babies by Jodie Shepard (adapted by)
Olivia Goes to Venice  by Ian Falconer

Web Links
Olivia the Piglet site
Olivia Printables and Activities on Nick Jr.
Olivia Crafts on Nick Jr.
Ian Falconer site at Simon and Schuster
Ian Falconer KidsReads site

Comprehension Questions
Questions for Olivia
Questions for Olivia Acts Out
Questions for Olivia Saves the Circus
Questions for Olivia & the Missing Toy
Questions for Olivia Forms a Band


Kevin Henkes

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Julius, the Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes
Sheila Rae the Brave by Kevin Henkes
Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
Lilly‚Äôs Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
Lilly’s Big Day by Kevin Henkes
Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
Owen by Kevin Henkes
Jessica by Kevin Henkes
A Weekend with Wendell by Kevin Henkes
Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes
My Garden by Kevin Henkes
A Good Day by Kevin Henkes
Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes
Junonia by Kevin Henkes
Old Bear Board Book by Kevin Henkes
Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes (a middle grade chapter book)
Birds by Kevin Henkes
All Alone by Kevin Henkes
Penny and Her Doll by Kevin Henkes
Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes
Penny and Her Song by Kevin Henkes

Lilly’s Big Day Read Aloud on YouTube

Web Links
Kevin Henkes Web Site
Kevin Henkes bio on Scholastic

**Also Check out: Author and Story Websites**


Mo Willems

Pigeon Books
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems
The Pigeon Has Feelings Too! by Mo Willems
The Pigeon Wants a Puppy by Mo Willems
The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog by Mo Willems
The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems

Elephant and Piggie Books:
Elephant and Piggie Books by Mo Willems
We Are In A Book! by Mo Willems
Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems

There is A Bird On Your Head by Mo Willems
Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems
I Broke My Trunk! by Mo Willems
Elephants Cannot Dance by Mo Willems                             

Leonardo, The Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems
Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems
Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion by Mo Willems
              (there are several more Mo Willems books)

Web Links
The Pigeon’s site
Mo Willems site
The Pigeon on Twitter


Mo Willems interview on YouTube–a great way to start of your Mo Willems unit.

Activity Ideas

  • After reading several Elephant and Piggie Books, make a Venn Diagram for Elephant and Piggie. Have a discussion about their friendship, and how we can be friends with those who are both similar and different than us. 
  • Make a class Rule Book for Pigeon. Each child gets to write and draw one rule a pigeon needs to follow.
  • Elephant and Piggie Books are great for teaching kids to read with Fluency. Use these books for class read alouds–focusing on expression, tone, and the feelings of the characters.
  • After reading the Knuffle Bunny series, discuss the different kind of illustrations the author used in these books. Have the kids make their own by making black and white photo copies of various setting. On a separate sheet of paper the kids can draw themselves, or one of Mo’s characters, cut them out and glue them to their “photograph.” The pictures will make great story starters for writing!
  • Parents and homeschoolers: Check out the Mo’s new app: Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App.
  • There are printable coloring pages on Mo’s site. Go to Pigeon Presents, then Fun. 


David Shannon

No, David by David Shannon
David Goes to School by David Shannon
Alice the Fairy by David Shannon
A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
The David books by David Shannon
Too Many Toys by David Shannon
How I Became a Pirate Illustrated by David Shannon (written by Melinda Long)
Pirates Don’t Change Diapers Illustrated by David Shannon (written by Melinda Long)
Duck on a Bike by David Shannon
Good Boy, Fergus! by David Shannon
Jangles: A Big Fish Story by David Shannon
The Rain Came Down by David Shannon

Web Links
David Shannon bio at Simon and Schuster
David Shannon bio and video interview
David Shannon info on Scholastic


Jan Brett

Beauty and the Beast by Jan Brett
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Jan Brett
The Mitten by Jan Brett
The Hat by Jan Brett
Mossy by Jan Brett
The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett
Hedgie’s Surprise by Jan Brett
Hedgie Blasts Off! by Jan Brett
Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett
The Umbrella by Jan Brett
Fritz and the Beautiful Horses by Jan Brett 
Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett
Town Mouse, Country Mouse by Jan Brett
The First Dog by Jan Brett
On Noah’s Ark by Jan Brett
Annie and the Wild Animals by Jan Brett
Comet’s Nine Lives by Jan Brett
Honey…Honey…Lion! by Jan Brett

Web Link  — Jan Brett’s website includes printables, videos and lessons. 
Jan Brett site 

Activity Ideas

  • Before beginning a Jan Brett unit browse through her website.  She has tons of printables, from coloring and activity pages to flashcards, posters, postcards, bookmarks and much more. There is also a lot of printables and ideas for your bulletin boards.
  • Watch her videos and choose a few to show your kids. 
  • Jan Brett is a very detailed illustrator. Show the kids the side panels in her books and see what secret or hidden things they can find. 
  • The illustrated side panels in books like The Mitten and Armadillo Rodeo often tell a story on their own. Have your kids explore these drawings and write out what they think the story is.
  • Go to Activities on the website and print out several how to draw pages. *This always worked great when I modeled how I would follow the steps and draw the character first OR by watching her How to Draw videos.
  • There are several printable and online games that go with the stories.
  • Make a hedgehog book. Instructions are listed under the Activities tab. Hedgehog pdf pattern
  • Make a paper plate armadillo
  • The Hat Readers Theater. (Instructions are listed under the Activities tab.)



Laura Joff Numeroff


If you Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
If You Give a Pig a Party by Laura Joffe Numeroff
If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Joffe Numeroff
If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Joffe Numeroff
When Sheep Sleep by Laura Joffe Numerous
What Mommies Do Best by Laura Joffe Numeroff
What Daddies Do Best by Laura Joffe Numeroff
The Jellybeans and the Big Dance by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Beatrice Doesn’t Want To by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Dogs Don’t Wear Sneakers by Laura Joffe Numeroff

Web Link
Laura Numeroff’s site

Activity Ideas

  • Print coloring pages from Laura Numeroff’s website. Let these be story starters for the kids. They can name their character and try to write a story similar the books.
  • Write a class book similar to What Mommies Do Best. As a class, pick a theme and each kid creates one page including illustration and sentence. It could be What Teacher Does Best, What Principal Does Best, What Librarian Does Best, What Friends Do Best, What Kindergartners Do Best, etc. 
  • For older kids, let them write their own version of What Mommies Do Best–choosing the subject they want. See if they can come with 10 sentences and illustrations to go with them.


Dav Pilkey


Kat Kong by Dav Pilkey
Dogzilla by Dav Pilkey
The Paperboy by Dav Pilkey
The Dumb Bunnies by Dav Pilkey
The Complete Adventures of Big Dog and Little Dog by Dav Pilkey
‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey
The Hallo-Weiner by Dav Pilkey
Dog Breath by Dav Pilkey

The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby by Dav Pilkey (a series)
Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot by Dav Pilkey (a series)
Captain Underpants (books 1-5) by Dav Pilkey (a series)
Dragon Gets By by Dav Pilkey (a series, Dragons or Dragon Tales)
The Adventures of Ook and Gluk, Kung Fu Cavemen From the Future by Dav Pilkey

Web Link
Dav Pilkey site
Dav Pilkey’s YouTube Channel Book trailers, behind the scenes videos and how to draw clips.

Activity Ideas

  • Compare Dav’s graphic novels, such as Captain Underpants, to his other books. Compare black and white illustrations, photographic illustrations like in Kat Kong, and colored illustrations.
  • Discuss and show other appropriate examples of the Graphic Novel.
  • There are lots of great printouts on Dav’s website–for both older and younger kids.
  • Check the backs of some of his books for discussion guides.
  • Download The Ultimate Epic Guide to Using Dav Pilkey books in the Classroom by Scholastic


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