In my classroom, I always love to have an “Author of the Month.” I choose a different children’s author each month, and we read books by that person and do activities that go along with the books. The kids always LOVE the Author of the Month books. They rush to check out the books for themselves in the library, and they always look forward to seeing who the next new author will be. It really helps them to be excited about books for the whole school year. (By the way – Author of the Month doesn’t have to be just a classroom thing! You could always do this at home with your own kids, focusing on a single author for a month. You could even start a book club for your kids and their friends and have monthly parties to celebrate different authors.)
I like to start the year with Kevin Henkes as the Author of the Month for August and or September (depending on when school starts).
If I had to pick one (and PLEASE don’t make me pick just one!) Kevin Henkes is probably my favorite children’s author. His books are perfect to get the school year off on the right foot and create a good classroom community.
Here is a list of the books and activities I like to use:
- A Weekend with Wendell – After reading the book about a naughty mouse, make a list of rules for the classroom. Perfect for discussing why good behavior is so important!
- Wemberly Worried – Read this book about a mouse who worries about everything at the end of the first day of school and discuss how children feel their first day went.
- Chrysanthemum – After reading this book about a mouse who gets teased about her name, make a list of nice and mean words (or put ups and put downs) and discuss how only the nice words will be used in the classroom. Then have kids interview each other in pairs and introduce their partners to the class using words from the nice list.
- Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse – This book about a precocious mouse who has trouble using self control is perfect for reviewing the rules on the second day of school. Review the classroom rules the kids wrote and discuss which ones Lilly broke. Another fun activity with this book is to have kids survey what they want to be when they grow up (like Lilly discusses in the book) and then use cheese balls (like they eat in the book) and graph paper to make graphs of the survey results.
- Chester’s Way – This book is about some very particular mice who like things just so. I like to use it as a springboard for the children to share some of their favorite things with the class as a way to get to know each other.
- Julius the Baby of the World – Another good book for getting to know each other. It is about families, so after reading it kids can share about their families.
- Owen – This story about a little mouse and his favorite blanket is a good introduction to a first homework assignment. Kids can go home and write about their favorite toys. Homework isn’t so bad when it’s all about toys, right?
- Lilly’s Big Day – Lilly the mouse is back again and in a wedding in this book. After reading it, kids can write about their own special days. This makes a good initial writing prompt to help assess where kids are with their writing skills.
- Sheila Rae, The Brave – This book about a mouse who overcomes her fears is a good introduction to having kids write goals about what they want to accomplish for the school year.
- At the end of the month after kids have come to love all the different Kevin Henkes characters, have them invent their own mouse characters! Give them patterns and have them trace them on “mousey” colors of paper. Then have them add embellishments to their mice to create new and unique characters. After that, have the kids write stories for their new mice. My experience is that when kids have little “characters” to inspire their writing, the writing they produce is amazing! These stories can be assembled together into a great class book that kids will like to look back on fondly as they move through the school year.