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This week, we’ll look at a set of books that could be a mini-cycle on Authors’ Notes. I used to be a reader who skipped things like the author’s note in a book. But one day I walked into Lynsey Burkins’ 3rd grade classroom and they were talking about an author’s note and I was intrigued. I realized all that I had been missing and started paying attention to authors’ notes. Lots of readers are like me and miss out on this critical piece of a book. This week, we’ll take a look at various things an author’s note can be in terms of how it often adds to the main text in such important ways. I could see using this set of picture books for a weeklong study to introduce readers to the power of author’s notes and the things we miss when we skip them!
A Walk in the Words is a great book to introduce Authors’ Notes to readers. Author’s notes do different things but USUALLY an author’s note shares an author’s connection to the story they just wrote. This author’s note does just that which is why I think it is a great introduction. This is a story of a child who struggles to learn how to read and the author’s note lets the reader know that this is based on the author’s childhood. I love it as an introduction to author’s notes and also to talk about credibility of an author when they write about difficult topics. As a reader, I want to know that someone writing about difficulty learning to read, actually experienced difficulty. That’s important if I want to trust the author. In this mini-study of Author’s Notes, I’d ask students to name what this author did in this author’s note (share his personal story/connection with readers). Love this book and the author’s note. A much better story when you don’t skip the author’s note!
I love The Year We Learned to Fly and I loved it even more after I read the Author’s Note at the end. Jacqueline Woodson does connect her own life to the book. But she does more than that. She pays tribute to Virginia Hamilton and her book, part of her inspiration. The combination of these two ideas in the Author’s Note gives readers a new way to understand the story and to become curious about Virginia Hamilton’s work. It is a short and powerful Author’s Note that brings new meaning to the main text of the book.
Paletero Man and Delicious are books of pure joy! Both celebrate street food! The Author’s Note in Paletero man (in both Spanish and English) shares the joy of the memories the author has as well as a bit of the history of street food in Los Angeles. The author also shares the cultural connection. I included Delicious even though it doesn’t have an author’s note. Instead, this book of poems, each celebrating street food from a different place in the world, has something else at the end (another mini-unit for another time maybe). The author gives us more information connected to each of the places or types of street food in the poem. Little chunks of information that go along with each poem!
Dad Bakes is a wonderful story of the love between a dad and a child. It is a simple story of the two baking together and also of the dad going off to work at night so bread is ready and warm in the morning. The Author’s Note shares information from the author’s experiences around incarceration and organizations that support individuals and families after incarceration. So this author note gives lots of information but also connects readers with organizations that they may want to support after reading the story. It is an Author’s Note that could also be read as a call to act/help. Rereading the story after reading the Author’s Note is also important as it is a bit of a different experience with the new knowledge.
Authors’ Notes are important in fiction books but they are equally if not more important when reading nonfiction. In The People Remember, the author includes a long Author’s Note that does so many important things for the reader. The author embeds information with personal memories and important moments. She also highlights the 7 principles of Kwanza and adds a historical timeline. This is a very important book and the Author’s Note is a generous addition with so much more to learn and understand for readers.
This week’s books were linked at Bookelicious and/or Cover to Cover Children’s Bookstore. If you are looking for a fabulous local children’s bookstore to support, Cover to Cover is an amazing one. We are lucky to have them in Central Ohio! If you don’t have an independent children’s bookstore in your town, check out Bookelicious. They are an online independent bookstore for children with an incredible curated collection.