Ezra Jack Keats
Lindsay Richardson's Author Study
About Ezra Jack Keats
Ezra Jack Keats is best known for introducing multiculturalism into mainstream American children's literature, and was one of the first children's book authors to use an urban setting for his stories. Born in East New York, Brooklyn, he was artistic from an early age and found joy in making pictures out of any scraps of wood, cloth, and paper that he could find. Throughout schooling, he received multiple awards for his excellence in art. Ezra explains that he "didn't even ask to get into children's books." The editorial director of Crowell Publishing, Elizabeth Riley, asked him to work on children's books for her company, which was followed by many other illustration opportunities. In 1960, Ezra published his first attempt at writing a children's book. In subsequent books, Ezra used marbled paper, acrylics and watercolor, pen and ink, and photographs to create unique collage illustrations, and often incorporated a highly dramatic, narrative structure in his writing. Today, Ezra is known for developing the use of collage as a form of illustration. Before his death from a heart attack in 1983, he had illustrated over 85 books, and written and illustrated 22 children's classics.
Problem Solving Lesson Plan
Day One: A Letter to Amy
Begin this problem solving lesson with a picture-walk of the book, followed by a read aloud. Be sure to stop throughout the book and ask "what," "how," and "why" questions to ensure student understanding. Once the book has been read, introduce the concepts of problem and solution and ask students to describe the problem and solution found in A Letter to Amy. Use this information to create a story map organizer that describes the characters, the problem, and the solution. Complete this first day of the lesson by having students brainstorm other ways that Peter could have solved his problem and compare those alternate solutions with the choice that Peter made.
Day Two: The Trip
Begin today's lesson by reviewing the A Letter to Amy story map organizer. Following the review, do a picture-walk and read aloud of The Trip, while asking critical thinking questions along the way. After presenting the story, have the students create another story map organizer describing the problem and solution of The Trip. Encourage students to brainstorm possible alternate solutions to Louie's problem and share these solutions with the class. This conversation can be used to lead into discussing how there is often more than one way to solve a problem.Conclude by asking the students to compare and contrast the problems and solutions in The Trip to those in A Letter to Amy.
Day Three: Pet Show
Today's lesson begins with a review of the story map organizers that the class created for A Letter to Amy and The Trip, and discussion of the problems and solutions in these stories. Begin Pet Show with a picture-walk. Ask students how the illustrations in this book are different than the previous two books. After having students predict the problem that will be explained in the book, read the book aloud and create a story map organizer based on the book's characters, problem, and solution. Encourage students to discuss different ways to solve Archie's problem. Conclude today's lesson by having the students draw a picture of what kind of pet they would bring to the pet show.
Day Four: Goggles
Begin today's lesson by reviewing the story map organizers that the class created for A Letter to Amy, The Trip, and Pet Show. Discuss the problems and solutions in these stories. After having a picture-walk discussion, read Goggles aloud to the students. Determine the problem and solution in the story, and display the information from this discussion on a story map organizer. Have the students discuss what they could do if a bully picked on them, and conclude the lesson by having them each briefly write about a time that they were picked on and how they solved the problem. Invite students to share their stories with the class.
Day Five: Jennie's Hat
Begin this last book study lesson by reviewing the story map organizers for the past four books: A Letter to Amy, The Trip, Pet Show, and Goggles. Remind students of the problems and solutions in each of these books. Begin Jennie's Hat with a picture-walk, followed by a read aloud. After discussing the problem and solution in the book, create the final story map organizer displaying the book's characters, problem, and solution. Using the story map organizers, conclude the book studies by having a discussion of the similarities and differences between all five of the Ezra Jack Keats books.
After completing the problem solving studies on each of the five Ezra Jack Keats books, wrap-up the lesson by having the students create their own short story. Instruct the students to think of a story line that contains a problem and a solution, either using their own characters or those in Ezra Jack Keats' books. Have each student create a story map organizer to plan the details of the problem and solution in their story. Then, ask students to write their stories on paper and add illustrations depicting the problem and solution. If students need additional support to get started, give examples of problems and solutions for them to choose among. Once students finish, have them share their stories with their classmates, then add the books to the class library.