Author Spotlight

An Author Spotlight is a simple and effective way to introduce your students to new authors throughout the year. In addition to reading a variety of books to your students and consistently talking to them about books and authors of course, visually highlighting authors on a regular basis is another way to display the importance of reading widely in your classroom.

Author Spotlight: Gary Paulsen

Each month or so, on top of a bookshelf in my classroom library, I display a new author. I do my best to alternate between authors that my students may have heard of, and those that they most likely have not. At times they may know a book or series by this author, but not be aware of who wrote it. Other times, they may know the author's most popular, or most recent, of books, but this proves to be a wonderful time for me to introduce them to other books by the same author that they would also enjoy.

Author Spotlight: Kate DiCamillo

With a simple construction paper display, a few picture easels, and some velcro to change the names out regularly, I can introduce my students to a new author with only a minute or so of work. When the students arrive the next day, they are always ecstatic to see which author has been chosen this month. I make it very clear that they may check out any of the books on display, as their reading is the utmost priority. I simply place another book by the author in the newly empty space. That way, the students are reading, and a larger number of books can be displayed.

Author Spotlight: Henry Winkler

Another option would be to let the students choose the new author with each rotation. It would give them a great opportunity to scour the books in the library and possibly find a new series or author that they themselves did not previously know. You could even ask them to do simple research about the author before presenting him or her to the class.

Author Spotlight: Roald Dahl

The Author Spotlight can be easily modified to accommodate any grade level, from preschool through high school.  Any student's attention can be drawn to the display with only a simple change of author. For younger students, Dr. Seuss or Eric Carl may present them with a colorful display to draw their eye toward books.  For older students, authors such as James Baldwin or Toni Morrison would help students find new books by the authors that they already love. 

If you create an Author Spotlight display in your classroom, I would love to see it! You can tag me on instagram at @missmartinsclassroom.  

On My Bookshelf: Moon Over Manifest

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool is one of those books that you want to carry around with you everywhere, on the off chance that you have a brief extra minute to read.  I transferred it from my purse, to my coffee table, to my nightstand, to my desk at school until I had finished it.  I realized that I never wanted it to be too far away from me because I always wanted to be reading it.  It only took 10 pages for me to consciously say to myself "well, I am hooked."

As an upper elementary teacher, I find that I appreciate stories with main characters that are around the age of my students.  I enjoy reading about life experiences from a 9, 10, or 11 year old child.  Abilene Tucker, however, is different than other characters I have read about.  She isn't your average child that goes to school, argues with her best friend, and comes home.  She is a child with a unique view on the world.  She has lived a life that most of our children have not.  She has hopped trains across the country, going to church services and other events just so they could eat.  She lives a transient life with her father, always being the new student at school, and developing her own list of "universals" about the world.  The one thing that has always remained constant, though, in her ever-changing world, is her father, Gideon.  When he sends her to Manifest without him, to stay with someone that she has never met, she spends the summer wondering who her father really is and if he will ever come back for her.

She is a child that students can relate to and who they can learn from.  While seeing the world through her eyes, she creates a world in Manifest that I couldn't wait to pick back up and be a part of.  I wanted to know who The Rattler was and if Gideon would be returning.  I wanted to hear the story that Sadie would tell next.  I wanted to travel back to 1936 and 1918 and be a part of that town.  

While I read, I thought of several students that would immediately take to this story.  They would relate to Abilene and would revel in the history of the town of Manifest and the United States at that time.  Any child that has felt a little lost or abandoned, or has often been the "new kid."  Anyone that has moved frequently and struggles to form connections to others because he or she will most likely be leaving again soon anyway.  Anyone that appreciates historical fiction or even is from a small town like Manifest.  This is a book that I would highly recommend be sitting on the shelf of every classroom grades 3 and up, and the nightstand of every teacher.