Having children make connections to Mem Fox' books is one of the ways that we hope to have children connect to her work. We want our children to understand that good readers activate their own prior knowledge when reading a book and that they make connections to help them understand the setting or the character or the character's motivation and reactions of particular situations that they have encountered in their own lives. Associating an experience in a book with one that the child has actually lived, helps him understand the character and the stoy. The same is true for setting, characters, moods they have read about in other books. Making those connections to the new book helps them understand, predict, analyze what is happening in the new book. The student above shows that he has made a connection between Mem's Shoes from Grandpa and There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Bat. In this case the child recognizes that both are pattern books with rhyming text that add on. Understanding the structure of the book helps the student predict what will come next.
In the work above the student sequences the major events in the story Possum Magic. Not only does this require recall of basic information but the student is also determining the most important events in the story and summarizing them into a few short sentences - all strong components of comprehension!
In the final example, the student compares a story by Mem Fox with another story that he knows. This type of comparing and contrasting helps the student analyze what happens in both stories.
All of these activities are ways that students are taught to read across the books of the same author. Knowing more about Mem Fox and the type of books that she writes, where she gets her ideas, where she is from and what is important to her will add layers of comprehension to the student's experience with her books. Comparing and contrasting and making connections to other books will also help the student understand what is happening in these new books. All of the reading and writing in an author study is to teach our students to comprehend at a deeper level and to help our children mentor themselves to the author so that they are able to recognize and to duplicate some of Mem Fox' craft in their own work. Maybe we are watching the birth of a new Mem Fox right in our own classrooms!