David Shannon Author Study: Lessons and Activities to Review Reading Strategies and Skills

by Hollie Griffith

on January 9, 2016
SO….I started this blog post back in March. YIKES!!! I was preggo, and tired, and NEEDED this author study for my class!  I got it finished, but never seemed to get around to blog about it… ha! So… here it FINALLY is!  Why now? Because I used it in my class this week!  We just came back from winter break and it was the perfect author study to review reading strategies that have been introduced throughout the year! And… I just love David Shannon. I’m not sure there’s a teacher out there who doesn’t!!!
readers must be taught to apply skills and strategies to help them comprehend,
make meaning, and draw conclusions.  This
author study is designed to review
or introduce the importance of “making meaning”
while reading. Throughout this
unit students review the question,
“What do good readers do?” as they apply imperative reading skills to aid in
making meaning from the text.
unit focuses on…
character traits and understanding how characters change throughout a story.
Visual Images
the Central Message
story elements and determining the problem, solution, and steps to solve the


 I used an anchor chart like the one below when teaching this unit in my class.  Each day, as we reviewed a reading strategy, we added it to our anchor chart.


I began the unit with A Bad Case of Stripes, which is an adorable story about a girl named Camilla.  At the beginning of the story she wants to fit in and worries about what others
think of her. She refuses to eat Lima beans because others will laugh and she
spends hours
picking out her clothes.  By the end of
the story, Camilla learns a lesson and realizes that she should not worry about
what others think and
do what makes her happy. This is the perfect story to review character traits and how important events cause characters to change throughout a story.
Alice the Fairy is a cute story about a little girl who is full of personality and imagination.
She doesn’t have the tricks to be a real fairy. For now, she will just be a
temporary one!
This is the perfect story to reinforce the importance of creating mental pictures. When reading this story, your students will quickly come to the realization that it is realistic
fiction rather than fantasy.  Alice
“pretends” to be a fairy by doing things such as using her wings to run fast,
pretending her dad is a horse, and using her wand to make leaves fall.
When I got to the page that
said, “Sometimes I use my wand
to disappear. But that’s kind of
scary.” I DID NOT show the pictures.  Students used the response sheet to draw their own mental images. Their ideas included she turned off the lights, she hid under covers, she covered her
eyes, she hid in the closet, etc.  I liked this activity because not only did my kiddos create mental pictures, but they also had to infer. No one
drew a picture of Alice actually disappearing!  Otherwise, the story would be fantasy.
After completing the activity, I showed the pictures and continued reading the story.
Jangles a BIG Fish Story is perfect for learning to find the central message of a story!  My kiddos LOVED this book! And…they learned the importance of always doing what is right!
I used Too Many Toys to review story elements… By the time we got to this story I stopped taking pictures in my class…ha. I’m bad about that!  I have to get better!
And last but not least…
We will be reading Good Boy Fergus! to review making inferences on Monday..
If you’re interested in this author study you can find it HERE!
Have a great weekend!

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