Sharon has an Masters of Science in Mathematics and a Masters in Education
Ms. Rogers, a second grade teacher, is preparing a unit on Laura Numeroff, a popular children's author. She prepares her students to learn about Numeroff's work and life. Let's peek in as Ms. Rogers fills the students in on Numeroff and her work.
Ms. Rogers tells her students that Numeroff was born on July 14, 1953 in Brooklyn, NY. She was an avid reader who dreamed of becoming an author. Her father, William, was a staff artist for the New York paper, World Telegram & Sun. Her mother, Florence, taught middle school home economics. Numeroff's parents were supportive of the arts in all forms and surrounded Laura and her sisters, Alice and Emily, with art - piano playing, dancing, singing and most importantly, reading. Little Susie is wondering how Numeroff became an author. Ms. Rogers continues.
Becoming an Author
As a child, Numeroff loved everything about books. She often made up stories and illustrated them, even adding a book jacket to go along with them, including the name of a publisher. By the time she was nine years old, she made the decision to become a writer. When she was 15, however, she changed her mind and decided instead to become a fashion designer like her older sister Emily. While in college pursuing a fashion degree at Pratt Institute, Numeroff found she didn't quite have the talent or passion for fashion.
During her last semester, she took a writing course focusing on creating and illustrating children's books. For a homework assignment, Numeroff wrote Amy for Short, a book about a girl who was the tallest in her third grade class. After four rejection letters from publishers, the book was bought by Macmillan and published in 1975.
Life as a Children's Author
Ms. Rogers continues her lesson by teaching that Numeroff continued writing and illustrating after the publication of her first book. In fact, she wrote and illustrated her first nine books, only shifting her focus to writing with her book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Some of her early books are now out of print, but Numeroff continues to write and produce some of America's best-known titles and series. Let's take a look at a few.
Numeroff's Series Books
- If You Give... Series
Ms. Rogers introduces the classes' favorite book first. In 1985, Numeroff wrote the book that launched her into a solid standing as a children's author with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Illustrated by Felicia Bond, the book, and its subsequent titles, follow the same if/then format and is a circular story, meaning it ends at the same place it began. The reader follows a character through a chain of events surrounding the concept of what happens if a cookie is given to a mouse. Other books from this series follow the same format and feature characters like a cat, dog, pig and moose.
- What People Do Best Series
Moving to another class favorite, Ms. Rogers says that in 1998 Numeroff began a new series with What Mommies Do Best/What Daddies Do Best, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. All books in this series feature a 2-part story, first focusing on the actions of one character, in this case the mother, and then focusing on the actions of the other partner, the father. The books are divided in two sides to feature each storyline; readers actually need to flip the book over to read the second story.
Like her first If You Give... series, Numeroff created a rhythmic, predictable pattern with the What People Do Best series. Other books of this series include grandparent pairs, aunt/uncles and brothers/sisters.
- The Jellybeans... Series
In 2008, Numeroff published the first of her Jellybeans series with the title, The Jellybeans and the Big Dance. The books in this series follow four friends who each have a specific niche, like dancing, soccer or reading, and sends a message of friendship and acceptance; just like jellybeans are all different and wonderful, so are friends. Six titles have been published in this series with the last in 2014.
Other Numeroff Selections
Because Ms. Rogers and her students are avid Numeroff fans, they have quite a collection of her books. Numeroff has published dozens of titles since her first in 1975, most notably her 10-Step Guide to Living with Your Monster, which details how to survive and accept monsters, Dogs Don't Wear Sneakers, a rhyming story of some silly antics of animals, and The Chicken Sisters, an upbeat story of how three chickens, who are sisters, trick the big bad wolf into not eating them.
Awards and Honors
Numeroff is considered one of the most recognizable, successful young children's authors. She has been given numerous awards, including several honoring her If You Give… series, such as the California Young Reader Medal, the Colorado Children's Book Award and the Georgia Children's Picture Storybook Award, all in 1988. If You Take a Mouse to the Movies, was on the New York Times Children's Bestseller's list for five months; it spent nine weeks at number one. The book, If You Give a Pig a Party, received the Quill Award in 2006.
Laura Numeroff is a popular, widely recognized children's author. Growing up in New York, Numeroff knew she wanted to be an author. She was temporarily sidetracked and chose to follow her sister's career path by seeking a degree in fashion. In her senior year of college, Numeroff wrote and illustrated her first book, Amy for Short, which was published in 1975.
She went on to write, illustrate and publish nine titles before hitting fame in 1985 with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, a circular story with an easy to remember, predictable pattern. Since then, Numeroff has continued the If You Give... series and written two more series-related books, the What People Do Best series and the Jellybeans series. She also writes stand-alone books in the same rhyming, rhythmic tone. Numeroff has been honored and won many awards, including the Quill Award, and is a New York Times Best Selling author.
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