Author Study of Mo Willems

I LOVE author and illustrator Mo Willems.  Studying an author as brilliant as Mo Willems can help children to appreciate writing, illustrating, humor, cartooning, and literary elements – just to name a few.

If you’re not yet a fan, um, WHY NOT?

Run to the book store or library and get all his books. Read his blog.  Read his other blog.  Now, read his books, laugh, and adore.

Now, let’s talk.  Aren’t the Elephant and Piggie books simply hilarious?  Which one is your favorite?  Mine is Watch Me Throw the Ball!  (“The pig rocks!”)

What about the Pigeon books?  I totally crack up at the Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!

Knuffle Bunny

knuffle bunny

Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity

There are three charming Knuffle Bunny books done in mixed media – photography and illustration. I’m still sad about the third because I just don’t want to say good-bye. (Trixie is much more mature than me.)

If you’re wondering how to say Knuffle Bunny, when we saw Mo at The Tattered Cover, he said you can either say the k or not- he refused to say which one was his intention. Which is cool. Don’t you think?

Reading Knuffle Bunny

  • Look at the  illustrations — how does Willems do it?
  • Read about the illustrations and find activities in this teacher’s guide.
  • Fun Fact:  The Kennedy Center will be presenting Knuffle Bunny:  A Cautionary Tale as a musical in 2010!

Elephant and Piggie


As you read the Elephant and Piggie books, discuss your observations.

  • Notice the dialogue bubbles! 
  • Talk about the use of gesture in the illustrations.
  • Discuss the different personalities in each character. What is Piggie like? (How do you know?) What is Gerald like? (How do you know?)
  • Hypothesize how Willems got the idea for each book.
  • Download this Elephant and Piggie party and activity guide from Willem’s blog.
  • Write your own book using dialog bubbles and animal characters.

The Pigeon

The Pigeon actually has his own website with games AND twitter account!

  • Discuss how the narrator talks directly to YOU, the reader.
  • Write a story where you talk directly to your reader. Use the Pigeon stories for inspiration.

Naked Mole Rat

  • Naked Mole rat thinks for himself. How does that work out for him?
  • Most animals are “naked” — write your own story about a “naked” animal that wants to wear clothes.
  • Talk about the lesson in this story. Why do some stories have lessons? Write your own story with a lesson.


The Pigeon has his on iPad app. It allows the reader, your child, to participate in making a funny story.

Willems recently developed a colorful, engaging new series of early readers: Cat the Cat, Who is That? What’s Your Sound Hound the Hound?, Time to Sleep, Sheep the Sheep, and  Let’s Say Hi to Friends Who Fly

So, what are your favorite Willems books?  


Preschool Pretend Play Veterinarian

The Plot Chickens Will Teach You How To Write Fiction

Practice Skip Counting, Counting by 2s, 5s, 10s


  1. says

    I LOVE Mo Willems!! I’m not a homeschooler, but I have used some of these questions on my kids after we have read the books. The Pigeon and Knuffle Bunny are the best. Thanks for including the twitter link to the Pigeon. I’m all over that.

    I can’t wait for the musical. I hope it comes thru Colorado.

  2. Kristy says

    My 2nd grader loves the Piggie and Elephant books. He likes that there aren’t too many words on the page and the pictures aren’t too distracting when he’s trying to read them. The more expression that he adds the better, in his opinion.

    Thanks for the link to the activity guide. I’ll definitely be using this.

  3. chinasue says

    I just started planning my Lucy Calkins Authors as Mentors unit of study. This is going to be a tremendous help to me as my KG kids and I begin the journey to use some of Mo Willems ideas in their own writing. What a wonderful mentor for young children. Thank you!


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