Lesson plan

Author Study: Jacqueline Woodson

Students will use their understanding of plot, theme, and comparing and contrasting in this lesson that teaches about an award-winning African American author, Jacqueline Woodson. Students will read some of her fiction books and compare and contrast the stories. They'll also discuss what they think makes Jacqueline Woodson an award-winning author.
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Students will be able to compare and contrast the themes, settings, and plots of stories written by the same author.

(2 minutes)
  • Introduce the class to the concept of an author study. Share that an author study is a lesson that gives them the opportunity to dive deeply into a specific author's life and books.
  • Explain that they'll work in groups to explore some of the similarities and differences in books written by Jacqueline Woodson. They will compare, which means looking for the things that are the same, and contrast, which means they will look for the differences.
(10 minutes)
  • Go to Jacqueline Woodson's website, and share a picture of her with the class. Explain that she is a famous African American author, who has written books for both children and adults.
  • Explore her author website to share more information about her, specifically focusing on the All About Me section on the lefthand menu.
  • Share that Jacqueline Woodson is also an activist, and many family members that came before her have also been involved in civil rights efforts. Provide a student-friendly definition of activist (a person who works to make important changes). Take time to explain that civil rights are freedoms for people. Provide some historical context if time allows.
  • Display the books written by Jacqueline Woodson that will be used for today's lesson. Give students time to look at the covers and turn and talk to a partner about what they think the books will be about.
  • Ask students to think about which books will be similar, and which will be different from the others. Prompt them to explain their thoughts with the class.
(25 minutes)
  • Divide the class into groups of three students and assign each group one of Jacqueline Woodson's titles. Give them a copy of the book.
  • Explain that each group will read their picture book by Jacqueline Woodson together, and then complete a graphic organizer to help them record the important story elements. Distribute a copy of the Story Rollercoaster graphic organizer to each individual and go over the parts of the graphic organizer with the class.
  • Give students time to read their picture book together in their groups and complete the graphic organizer.
  • Tell the class that the groups will share their book with the rest of the class by explaining the information on their worksheet. Challenge the entire class to be thinking about which books are similar to and different than the other books they are hearing about during these presentations.
(25 minutes)
  • Combine two groups to make a group of six students so that the new group has two books on which to focus. Tell the class that they will read the two picture books together in their group and then complete a graphic organizer to compare and contrast the two stories.
  • Distribute a copy of the Compare and Contrast Elements of a Story worksheet to each student.
  • Give students time to read their books and complete their graphic organizers together as a group.


  • Pair students with a supportive partner who will help them through completing their graphic organizers.
  • Provide sentence frames for students to complete as they share about their picture book.
  • Put students into mixed ability groups to provide assistance with reading the picture books aloud.
  • Pre-teach lessons with the Story Rollercoaster graphic organizer and the Compare and Contrast Elements of a Story graphic organizer to ensure students are familiar with the skills and organizers.


  • Have students compare and contrast three picture books by Jacqueline Woodson.
  • Challenge students to work in partnerships and learn more about Jacqueline Woodson's life as an author.
(5 minutes)
  • Collect students' Compare and Contrast Elements of a Story worksheets to assess their proficiency in comparing and contrasting two fictional stories.
  • Ask students to write one thing that they noticed about the topics, themes, or characters that Jacqueline Woodson writes about in her stories. Instruct them to include evidence that supports their statement.
(5 minutes)
  • Have students share their observations about the topics, themes, or characters that Jacqueline Woodson writes about in her stories with a partner, and then the whole group.
  • Hold a discussion about why they think Jacqueline Woodson is an award-winning author.

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