Jan Brett

Author/Illustrator Study

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Author studies for young readers and writers

In the chilly, wintry months, Jan Brett stories keep first graders warm in Ms. Eknoian's class. Jan Brett's engaging words and beautiful illustrations always have first graders at the edge of their seats, so we decided to do an author study on this wonderful author/illustrator to learn more about her and her work.

An author study includes focusing on a variety of texts written by the chosen author. Students are learning and practicing reading and writing strategies through Jan Brett's stories. For Reader's Workshop, we use Jan Brett's stories to practice strategies such as retelling, comparing/contrasting, visualizing, making connections and analyzing characters, problems and solutions. In Writer's Workshop we use her stories to focus on styles of writing, and traits including word choice, organization and ideas. We also tie Jan Brett into our opinion writing unit when we write about our favorite Jan Brett book at the end of our author study!

An author study allows students to focus on the writing style of one author. After just a couple of books, the students start to notice special one-of-a-kind characteristics of Jan Brett's stories (such as beautiful detailed page borders) and get to know more about her as an author and illustrator.

About the author/illustrator

Jan Brett has been an author and illustrator of children's books for over 20 years. She has written and illustrated over 25 children's books, and has also retold and illustrated many stories as well. One of the most exciting things students find out about Jan Brett is that she lives in the same state we do, Massachusetts! Jan's husband, Joe, is a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Jan Brett loves to travel. She finds a lot of her inspiration for her books in places that she has traveled, including Norway, Japan, Canada, and Africa! Jan Brett also loves animals, and uses animals as the focus of many of her stories. Some of Jan Brett's popular books include: The Mitten, The Hat, The Umbrella, Gingerbread Friends, Annie and the Wild Animals, Mossy, and Hedgie's Surprise. Look for a complete list of Jan Brett's books below!

Getting ideas...

Jan Brett says that she has known that she wanted to be an author/illustrator since she was in KINDERGARTEN! In the attached video, Jan Brett talks about the very first steps when writing a book...getting ideas! Click on the link below to hear how this famous author gets ideas for her stories. This is a great tool to help you start a conversation with your child about how to come up with ideas for their own stories.


Jan Brett's website is such a wonderful motivator for the students. We have been able to watch a few of Jan Brett's "how to draw" videos on our classroom Smart Board. The children love following Jan's directions to draw characters right from her books! I can see the inspiration and motivation in the students as they pay close attention to Jan's directions, then apply the same techniques in their own stories during Writer's Workshop. The students are all wonderful artists! Click on the link below and view the "how to draw" videos with your child and see their amazing art skills.

"Jan Brett at Home"

Click on the link below to watch a video of Jan Brett at home! She will show you her house, some of her drawings and you can even meet her pets!

"Gingerbread Baby"

Click on the link below to see Jan Brett make her very own gingerbread cookies, and listen to her read her story Gingerbread Baby.

Jan Brett and ANIMALS

As readers can see from her stories, Jan Brett LOVES animals! Take a look at some of these pictures of Jan Brett with some very cool animals. You may even recognize some of these animals from her stories. Ask your child which Jan Brett stories they have seen these animals in, and which is their favorite and why!

Jan Brett helps us with our reading strategies

Below are some of Jan Brett's books that we read in class. Under the picture is the reading strategy we practiced using each text as a mentor text. If you have these books at home have your child explain the reading strategies we learned as you read together at home!

final project

As a conclusion to our author study, students wrote friendly letters to Jan Brett sharing their favorite Jan Brett story! This project was a way to wrap up our author study, as well as tie in our Writer's Workshop unit of opinion writing and writing a friendly letter. The students did an amazing job with this project. Please see our student work page to see beautiful samples of student letters to Jan Brett.