Author & Text

Today is Leo Lionni's birthday.

May 05
Calendar Activity Type
Author & Text
Also on
May 05

Event Description

As a child growing up in Holland, Leo Lionni taught himself how to draw. He earned a doctorate in economics from the University of Genoa, but began his career as an author and illustrator of children's books in 1959. His first book Little Blue and Little Yellow came from a story written for his grandchildren during a boring train ride. He is the winner of four Caldecott awards.

Classroom Activity

After reading several of Lionni's stories, play the game Guess the Story.  Invite a student to pull a sentence strip that describes one of Lionni's messages from a box. (Older students can create the sentence strips in collaborative groups.) Students should explain what the message means and the book it is from.  Some suggested messages include the following:

  • Let's work together.
  • Take time to smell the roses.
  • You are never alone when you have a friend.
  • Don't take your family for granted.
  • Everybody is special.
  • Be happy with who you are.

As a follow-up, have your students write and illustrate their messages with the ReadWriteThink Stapleless Book.


This site gives an excellent introduction to children in grades K through 5 about Leo Lionni’s life, his art work, and his children’s books. The site includes excellent printable activities and videos of Lionni’s art making process.

This packet contains a variety of useful activities made by teachers, for teachers to accompany the Leo Lionni books, as well as original artwork on display at the Castellani Art Museum.

This page provides information about Leo Lionni's life and learns how experiences and events in his life influenced on his work.

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