This article will help you highlight the umbrella categories of identifying an author’s purpose but if you want your students to improve their reading comprehension, identifying the author’s purpose is the most important part to it. Knowing why an author wrote a text, understanding their frame of mind better or help in recalling what you read on the previous page will make reading an enjoyable process for your students and understanding the intent a walk in the park.
This article will help you highlight the umbrella categories of identifying an author’s purpose, but if you’re teaching an intermediate audience, you will find more nuanced understanding of the purpose, especially when authors write nonfiction. The content is heavily based on the intent of the writer, if they are writing textbooks the purpose is to educate, blogs for something you’re interested or excited about or a news report for spreading information.
Thus when we talk about the PIE (persuade, inform and entertain) acronym inform in this context becomes a sweeping term being used for nonfiction texts. Continue reading this article to be able to help your students determine the author’s purpose and be able to provide comprehensive feedback about the text they read.
What Is An Author’s Purpose?
When the author’s purpose for writing a text is mentioned, the first question that pops up is why they wrote this and the reasoning behind their writing. What is the source of motivation for them to write and complete this text?
Sometimes it is to inform the readers of about a particular topic, sometimes a narrative to entertain and engage or merely to convince the reader by attempting to make an argument or sharing an opinion.
When a reader is trying to identify the author’s purpose, they look at the reason they decided to write something in the first place. As your students recognize this and are able to accurately determine the author’s purpose, they become skilled in evaluating a piece a of writing and understand the importance of identifying it.
It also helps them become better writers as they’re able to keep the audience in mind and write texts that are clear, well-written and target their audience.
Types Of Author’s Purpose
The three most commonly known writer’s purpose are known as PIE in the academic world. This means
However the range goes from 3-7, depending on the student’s academic standard. PIE is a good starting point for beginner level students that are learning about different types of author’s purpose. Using the acronym PIE also makes it easy for them to remember.
In a text that is persuasive the writer’s primary intent is to convince the readers, propel them into action, or change their ideas about something. This is also a very common example for nonfiction writing.
The text is written with the aim to convince the reader of the advantages of an idea. When you’re reading this type of writing, you should know that the writer wants you to conclude the piece with an affirmation to the idea they are presenting.
It is supposed to be a piece that is trying to convince you to agree with a point of view that will eventually make you take a certain course of action.
Persuasive writing can be found in all kinds of genres or texts, from an academic scholar expressing their point of view to even a fiction writer with an agenda. Sometimes the tone is so subtle it feels as if the writer has not consciously made a decision to persuade. It can also be blatantly convincing.
Your students ought to be able to make that distinction when they’re reading a text. This is especially true for higher secondary level students, who have had a chance to practice reading comprehension for a while and are now at a stage where they can pick up on subtleties in the text.
Most commonly, the essays written for this purpose are nonfiction. The examples are advertisements, political writings, a short essay and speeches.
How To Identify Persuasive Writing?
To be able to identify author’s purpose you should ask your students to read and see if they think the writer is trying to get them to believe something or calling them to action. Identify some words that you’re likely to see in a general persuasive piece and ask them to see if they can point them out.
These words can be a starting point for them to eventually understand the tone the author is using. They should be able to identify the tactics and strategies being used like repetition, supporting evidence for the argument they are making, euphemistic language, hyperbole, strongly opposing a different outlook or idea, photographs that lean towards their own idea or phrases that seem forceful.
This type of writing is done to inform the reader or expose some sort of information. The author wishes to enlighten their readers with topics that might be relevant to them or make the reader more critical and thus, provides facts and evidence to help them learn. However, keep in mind, that these facts are presented not to persuade a reader rather these are presented with the purpose of teaching.
Most of the informational texts and textbook content are understood as informative texts with the writer’s purpose being to educate and inform readers on a certain topic. School books, encyclopedias, news reports or newspapers and instructional books are all written with the intent to inform the reader.
How To Identify Informative Writing?
The author will likely use facts and figures when they’re writing an informative piece. This will be the first marker that helps a student determine the purpose behind the writing.
However, it is important to flag that authors sometimes provide informational texts that have their own opinions in the piece as well.
When a reader goes through a text, such as this, it is important for them to be ready for the opinions that they will find masked in facts. Thus, creating a distinction between what is an informative text and what is littered with opinions.
This is going to become easier with practice, when your student identifies words that are of a persuasive text but also informs them they will be able to differentiate between the two. The tone of an informative piece is neutral and does not support any specific ideology.
Students should become proficient in recognizing these hidden opinions through practice.
Any text that the student enjoys and is mostly not rooted in reality is written with the aim of entertaining the reader. An author uses entertainment mostly in the fictional genre.
When the reader comes across this, they will understand the writer’s intent to keep them interested and excited throughout the piece. The piece might be action packed, with a lot of movement and may have dialogue.
A great deal of fiction is written with the purpose of entertaining the audience. For example, fictional books or short stories, poems, or plays.
Identifying fictional writing
When the author tries to write a piece with the aim to entertain or excite the reader, they use techniques that act as a way to engage with their audience. Emotive language, vivid imagery and euphemism can be a few dead giveaways.
Ending chapters on cliffhangers or a humorous piece of writing with expressive characters are used in these stories. Get your student to identify words that are expressive and descriptions that help them imagine a specific place. Sometimes the writing can be flowery, or alternatively, action packed and thrilling.
Fiction is fairly easy to identify for readers. Try to give them their favorite books’ excerpts which can help them identify the words and the writer’s intent behind the piece.
You can also further help the students classify them in romantic, action or sci-fi etc. genres.
Each type becomes easier to identify when you give author’s purpose examples as the texts students are familiar with. Because this familiarity helps them determine the purpose and the tone of the text faster and is a good way to practice identifying the author’s purpose.
Strategies To Help Identify Author’s Purpose
As students progress and become better in determining why the author writes you can employ these strategies to help them advance with their learning.
The Bigger Question
Start the practice with asking why the author wrote this. While it seems like the obvious answer, it is the core question that will help in identification. If the students are able to remember this question each time, they read a text they will be able to understand the bigger picture i.e. the author’s purpose.
Mention The Structure
Have a conversation surrounding the text’s structures. Authors use different structures for their texts, identify the sequence, get to the core of the problem and see how the structure aids the writer’s purpose.
Get to The Core
Getting to the base of the reading will be a surefire way to get to the author’s purpose. How are they making the readers feel, when your students read the text ask them how they feel and if this was what the writer intended.
Identify The Changes in The Text
Break apart the text to identify the author’s purpose. Authors tend to have several purposes for writing a text; they might confuse you with that but at the end of the text the real purpose of their writing is reiterated. Thus, it is important that students keep identifying the author’s purpose that will give them evidence to the bigger purpose he/she/they have.
Identifying an author’s purpose for writing a certain piece leans heavily on the student’s academic progress later on. It eventually leads to learning to read a text skillfully and being able to extrapolate relevant information while giving a thorough analysis of what the students have been able to read. The improved comprehension of writing will also benefit students in their own independent writing.