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Because of Winn-Dixie Holes Esperanza Rising Chasing Vermeer Hoot Inkheart



Lesson 3: Up Close with the Author
Carl Hiaasen was born and raised in Florida, and uses his home state as the backdrop for his many novels. Students can learn how Mr. Hiaasen feels about Hoot, his first book for young readers, and they can request more information from the author himself.

Grade Level: 5-8

1-2 Days

Student Objectives
Students will:

  • Use digital resources to explore the life of an author and how he connects to his work and his readers.
  • Write a letter to the author.

Language Arts Standards (4th Ed.)

  • Reflects on what has been learned after reading and formulates ideas, opinions, and personal responses to texts
  • Evaluates own and others' writing


  • Computer: activities can be modified from one computer to a whole computer lab
  • Flashlight Readers: Hoot
  • Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
  • KWL Chart (PDF)
  • Paper and pencil
  • Optional: LCD or overhead projector to display activities


  • Bookmark Flashlight Readers on the computers students will use
  • NOTE: If students have limited access to computers, print activity screens and make transparency copies to post on an overhead projector


Step 1:
After reading Hoot as a class or individually, ask students what they know about author Carl Hiaasen. Record their answers on a KWL chart. Encourage students to compare their thoughts about Mr. Hiaasen and his novel to others they have read. Do they think Mr. Hiaasen would be like other authors they know about? Invite students to make a list of things they would like to know about Mr. Hiaasen. Add these to the KWL Chart.

Step 2:
Working in groups or individually, have students use the following links off of the Hoot activity’s main screen to search for answers to their author questions: About Hoot, Carl Hiaasen on Writing, and Meet the Author. Students can write in answers on the KWL Chart.

Step 3:
Bring the students back together to share information. How much information about Mr. Hiaasen did they find? Did reading about the author inspire more questions? Invite students to think of other ways to find out more. Another way to learn more about a person is to ask them directly, and one way to do this is in a personal letter. Have students create a list of questions they would like Mr. Hiaasen to answer.

Step 4:
If students have worked on the Write for Change activity, compare personal letter writing to persuasive letter writing. Point out that the persuasive letter used information to persuade the recipient. In this personal letter to the author, the student is asking for information.

Step 5:
Model a personal letter for students, including the date, greeting, body of the letter, and closing. Have students recall the most interesting thing they learned about Mr. Hiaasen, as well as their favorite part of Hoot. These bits of information are a great way to start a personal letter. Next, have students choose one or two of their best questions for Mr. Hiaasen. To close the letter, make sure students thank Mr. Hiaasen for his time. Students can choose a closing such as From, Sincerely, etc., and sign their names.

Step 6:
Students can share their letters with the class or in small groups. Encourage students peer edit each other’s letters. If students would like to send their letters to Carl Hiaasen, explain that they can do so by mailing it to his publishers. Show them how to the find the name of the publisher inside the book. Then check the publisher’s Web site to see where to mail letters to the author.

Assessment & Evaluation

  • Review students' letters to assess their ability to formulate opinions on what they know and ask questions to find out what they would like to know.
  • Assess each student’s letter for:
    • Appropriate questions
    • Correct grammar and punctuation
    • Correct spelling and word usage
    • Good self-editing skills displayed by final draft

Lesson Extensions

  • Encourage students who have read Carl Hiaasen’s next book, Flush, to include questions or comments about that book in their letter.
  • Hoot, the movie, is due in theaters this spring. Invite students to write letters to the actors in the movie.
  • Check to see if Carl Hiaasen is scheduled for an upcoming author visit on Scholastic.com. If so, have students submit their questions online for the author, and see our teaching ideas for using an author chat with Carl Hiaasen in your classroom.
  • Encourage students to send a note to any of their favorite authors by going through the publisher. To send a letter to Scholastic author, mail it to the following address.
    Author Name
    c/o Scholastic Inc.
    555 Broadway
    New York, NY 10012-3999