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OWP Young Adult Literature Workshop

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Author Study on Jerry Spinelli

OWP Young Adult Literature Workshop          

February 23 and 25, 2006

Project Description

Susan Hill


Author Study: Jerry Spinelli


During a three week period, students will be encouraged to read as many of Jerry Spinelli’s books as they can.  His books range in reading levels from 2.7 (The Bathwater Gang and others) to grades 5-12 (Milkweed), making Spinelli a good subject to use with a fifth grade class.



Below are some of Jerry Spinellis’ book titles and their approximate reading levels.  (I haven’t found all of them, yet!)


        Tooter Pepperday                                                2.9

        The Bathwater Gang                                    2.9

        The Bathwater Gang Gets Down to Business   3

        Dump Days

        My Daddy and Me

        It’s Fine to Be Nine

        Do the Funky Pickle    

        Fourth Grade Rats                                       4

        Crash                                                        4.2

        Stargirl                                                      4.2

        The Library Card                                          4.3

        Loser                                                         4.3

        Space Station Seventh Grade                                4.8

        Maniac Magee                                             6.1

        There’s a Girl in My Hammerlock                    3.5

        Who Put the Hair in my Toothbrush                        3.5

        Wringer                                                     5.3

        Linda Brown, You Are Not Alone

        Guys Write for Guys read

        Lizzie Logan, Second Banana


Only after all of his books have been read, I will ask the class what they think they know about the author.  (I thought about posing that question in the beginning, but with all of his great web sites, there wouldn’t be much discovery occurring.)  Small groups will create a list of attributes they think are true of Jerry Spinelli, and record their support for each idea based upon the books they have read.  Then we will create a biographical sketch of Jerry Spinelli as a whole class. 


The next day, I will share some excerpts from Knots in My Yo-Yo String, which is an autobiography, and the Jerry Spinelli official web site.  There are MANY Jerry Spinelli websites that are great!  www.randomhouse has an “Author Q and A page, and has an awesome discussion with the author about Milkweed. Spinelli offers some great writing tips! These sites are very kid friendly. (They’re teacher friendly, too!)


We’ll cross out attributes that we discover are inaccurate and add attributes to our author sketch as we continue to discover them.


My hope is that through this author study, my students will come to feel more like “insiders” in this whole reading and writing business.