Teaching author’s purpose help to understand why a text was created. There are three main categories, to inform, to persuade, and to entertain. Sometimes additional categories are added, including to explain and to describe.
A simple way to introduce author’s purpose is to have students sort books, sentences, and short reading passages.
- Sort picture books- First, review fiction and nonfiction. Pull a selection of picture books and have students sort them into fiction (to entertain) and nonfiction (to inform). This activity works well with students working together in a group. Clues students can look for are that nonfiction often has text features (heading, captions, graphs, photographs.) Fiction is more likely to have drawings and speech bubbles.
- Sort sentences- Create sentences with examples of the different author’s purposes. Include signal words for students to sort. For persuade, look for words such as: best, most, least, must. For inform look for words such as: tell, teach, form, fact. Also, have examples that do not have signal words since they will not always be included. Visual examples you can include are protest posters, campaign posters (persuade), charts and graphs (inform or persuade), comics (entertain or persuade)
- Sort reading passages- Have students sort longer reading passages into the different author’s purposes. After sorting, have students explain how they know. The author’s purpose is ______ because _______. You can also use newspaper articles (comics are a good example of entertain and the opinion section is a good example of to persuade), magazine articles, and tv clips.
Another way to practice author’s purpose is for students to create their own examples. Have students pick a topic and then create an information piece, opinion (persuasive) piece, and a story (entertain). You can also have the whole class/group use the same topic and each student chooses one format to create. Then have students read the examples and figure out what the author’s purpose is. Use graphic organizers to guide students as they create the different examples.
For a newcomer or beginning English Language Learner, you can start this activity by showing a photograph of the topic. Lable important words in the picture. You can use different colors for the different parts of speech. Next, create a chart that sorts these words. Then have sentence starters for each author’s purpose.
To inform- A fact about _______ is ________.
To persuade _______ is the best because it __________.
To entertain One day ______ went to _________.