Newbery Honor Medalist and TeachingAuthor Patricia Reilly Giff chose TeachingAuthors as her last August Blog Tour Stop.
She’s been out and about in the Virtual World sharing news of her early chapter book series for readers ages 6 through 9, Zigzag Kids, which kicks off this month with its first two titles, Number One Kid and Big Whopper.
And lucky me!
I’m the TeachingAuthor who interviewed her.
In many ways, I’m paying Kindness forward.
Patricia Reilly Giff taught me. As I traveled my oh, so long Writer's Plotline, learning my craft, honing my craft, I read her books - first as a reader, then next as a writer, over and over and over again. Today I share them with my writing students, young and young-at-heart.
Most of us know Patricia Reilly Giff as an author. Her award-winning books include The Pictures of Hollis Woods and Lily’s Crossing. The Polk Street Kids series sat on many of our shelves, at home, in the library, in the classroom.
But I bet most of us didn't know Patricia Reilly Giff was and is a teacher still.
She taught school before she wrote, at P.S. 136 – St. Albans, New York, and on Long Island, in various districts.
And, she currently teaches Writing for Children to adults at her Fairfield, CT bookstore, The Dinosaur’s Paw. Her current class, she brags, holds five students whose books are being published this year.
In the Zigzag Kids series, Patricia Reilly Giff again creates a world and kids readers will instantly recognize: the Afterschool Center at the Zelda A. Zigzag Elementary School and the eleven wonderfully-unique students who stop by every day. Though wonderfully-unique, the five girls and six boys deal with all-too-common, universal problems. As in her Polk Street Kids series titles, Real Life becomes easily-readable – and instantly fun.
It’s not a far jump from teaching reading for twenty years, to teaching writing…and I’ve been doing that for twenty years now, too.
How easy it is to teach those two subjects---lifelong passions both.
In 1990, our family opened a children’s book-store, The Dinosaur’s Paw, and people began to drop in to ask tentative questions about writing their own books. Two minutes later, it seemed, my son Jimmy, who runs me as well as the bookstore, had chairs out, the coffee pot going, and there I was (and still am)…reading manuscripts, and assuring writers that if I could do it, anyone could. I believe that firmly.
The problem is that writing, by its very nature, is different from most other skills.
It’s not like reading, or cooking, or tailoring a suit.
No matter what we write, we reveal ourselves: our longings, our beliefs, our fears.
How terrible then to take a chance on rejection.
So doesn’t it follow that we have to believe in ourselves, that what we say has value, too?
Patricia Reilly Giff continues...
I’m asked often about journals and writing exercises.
Even after all the books I’ve written, I still feel fragile about my writing.
My husband reads my books first. (If I wrote the dictionary, he’d say, “What a wonderful plot.”)
I think of this most especially in children’s writing. I tell teachers, “Find something, find anything, to praise. There’s always something.” (One boy told me his teacher loves his question marks. “Curly, you know.”)
Finally, Patricia Reilly Giff writes...
Book Giveaway Drawing Entry Rules
1.You must post a comment to today's blog post identifying yourself as a Classroom Teacher - OR - either a writer, librarian, home-schooling parent or parent/grandparent. It's that easy!
2.You must include contact information. If you are not a blogger, or your email address is not accessible from your online profile, you must provide a valid email address in your comment. Entries without contact information will be disqualified. Note: the TeachingAuthors cannot prevent spammers from accessing email addresses posted within comments, so feel free to disguise your address by spelling out portions, such as the [at] and [dot].
3.You must post your comment by 11 pm (CST) Monday, August 30, 2010. (The winner will be announced on Wednesday, September 1.)
4.You must have a mailing address in the United States.
5.If you win, you automatically grant us permission to identify you as a winner on our TeachingAuthors website.
• In Number One Kid, Mitchell is nervous because he is the new kid at Zelda A. Zigzag School. Have students make a welcome kit for new students.
Suggest that they include a welcome letter, something about the school, a school map, a description of Afternoon Center activities, items like an eraser, pencil, etc.
• Challenge students to make a list of rules for the Afternoon Center that doesn’t include the word "don’t." (e.g., instead of saying “Don’t run,” say “Walk”) Divide the class into small groups and assign each group one rule.
Ask them to find a creative way to present the rule to the class. They may sing it, act it, or draw it.