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Favourite Author Survey

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By Helen Watts —Editor, Literacy Time PLUS

This recount – of a fictional class survey of favourite authors, carried out on World Book Day – is in presentation format as if compiled by a child. It includes bar charts, pie charts, plot graphs and tally charts.

The presentation also asks the audience to consider whether the results were fair, which sets of data give the most information, which leave things out and so on. The resource can not only be used to look at the language used to recount the survey, and the mathematical vocabulary required, it can also be used to stimulate the children’s written responses, summarising the data and writing an argument for or against the results.


Shared learning and teaching

Shared reading

  • Look through the presentation together and explore how to use it with the children. What does a survey mean? Have you come across this word anywhere before? How does the on-screen resource show the data and help us understand the data more?
  • Investigate some of the questions together. Do all the children agree? Why not?
  • How can you collect data from the pictogram? Discuss the findings with the children. Would they be the same in your class? Why not?
  • Look together at the language written in the recount. Explore the language used and talk about why the author had chosen certain words. Can the children think of better words to use?

Responding to the text

  • Invite the children to make a list of questions they would like to ask their favourite author and to feed back their questions to a partner. How are their questions different?
  • Develop arguments with the children to justify whether the data is useful or not, or fair or helpful. Look at differences in opinions. The activity sheet below provides a set of discussion points for each chart or graph.
  • Pose a real-life problem to the children, such as the headteacher wanting to know the children’s favourite authors so they can put more of these books in the library. Children could think of their own questions that they could collate data for and then find out their results. This could be in their own class or another class, possibly in another year group.
  • Take on the role of presenters and present the on-screen resource, talking through the screens as if they had collected the data themselves. Make a podcast for other children to watch.

Previous learning

Children should be able to: offer reasons and evidence for their views; listen to a speaker and make notes; compare how arguments are presented; summarise evidence to support a hypothesis; find information effectively; interrogate texts.

Group and guided activities

  • In small groups, revisit each chart in the on-screen resource. Brainstorm ideas for how to make each form of data presentation better or fairer.
  • Invite the children to make their own data bank using similar stimulus to the on-screen resource. Perhaps you could find out which type of texts people like best – or which type of authors (eg, poets, fiction writers, non-fiction authors, playwrights or journalists).

Links with ICT

  • Find out more about different authors using the internet or by downloading some of the Literacy Time PLUS Author Profiles. Alternatively, children could search for their favourite author and see what they can find out about their books. Most publishers have websites dedicated to popular children’s authors. Children can record what they find on the activity sheet below.
  • Use a digital camera to record footage of the children’s debates.

Speaking and listening

  • Ask the children to take on the role of their favourite author, and sit in the ‘hot seat’ while the rest of the class or group asks them questions.
  • Hold an ‘author’s question time’ with two of the ‘authors’ debating the quality of their books – who has better characters, and so on. The children could take it in turns to play different authors and you could hold a ‘Battle of the authors’ competition.

Key learning outcomes:

  • To use and explore different question types;
  • To compare different types of information texts;
  • To make notes on and use evidence from across a text to explain events or ideas;
  • To use ICT programs to present text and communicate information and ideas.


  • Use a plenary session to review any data you have collected and to analyse the results. Were your survey questions fair?



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