Wednesday, October 30, 2013

WWW: Lining Up Your Family's Story

Good News: The Word is out that this coming Friday, November 1 is National Family Literacy Day.
(If it hasn't reached you yet, click here to read my Monday TeachingAuthors post.)
Even Better News: all of November celebrates Family Literacy.

What better way to celebrate (1) families, (2) reading and (3) writing than to celebrate families actively reading and writing together?!
Parents and grandparents, educators, librarians, state Centers for the Book and booksellers are doing just that in this event the National Center for Family Literacy has sponsored since 1994.

All sorts of ongoing activities accommodate the Reading Together part: Read-a-thons, Read-alouds, Reading Exchanges, even Reading Recordings.

And all sorts of ongoing activities accommodate the Writing Together part, many of which feature the collective telling of a family’s story.

Of course, each of our family stories is unique, with its own cast of characters in a variety of settings over a known period of time, its multitude of memorable scenes lovingly realized (think occasions, celebrations, life-and-death events, seminal moments, ups-and-downs and benchmarks.)

Just as unique are the possible ways to tell our family stories.
Picture albums.
Even diaries and journals.
Family trees.
Geneology travels.
My August 23 TeachingAuthors post about Story Corps
offers links to question generators storytellers can use when interviewing family members.
It also notes the November 29 day-after-Thanksgiving National Day of Listening, when family stories are shared.

It was Facebook’s newest profile offering – Timeline – that got me thinking.
Why not limn our family’s stories, using the time-honored learning tool we first learned in Kindergarten and fine-tuned as we worked our way to and through high school: the time-line!

(For images of time-line possibilities, click here.)

Enjoy! Enjoy!

Esther Hershenhorn

                                             * * * * * * *

Creating a Family Time-line

Limning your family’s story involves focus, thoughtful questions and organization.

(1)   Define and know the family you’re limning.

(2)  Choose your cast of characters.

(3)  Consider and boundary the time-line’s beginning and end.

(4)   Choose your Focus.

Family history?
            Family travels?
            Family accomplishments?
            Family Smiles and Tears?
            Comings and Goings?
            All of the above?

(5)  Choose events that show action that supports the focus and thus  TELLS A STORY.  (Think scenes that build; think plot.)

       Possibilities to consider:
             Life-and-death events
             Seminal Moments
             Highs and Lows
             Ups and Downs
             Unforgettable Moments
             Wins and Losses

(6)  Choose how you will represent the markings.
              Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down
              Stick figures
              Text bubbles
              The sky’s the limit!

(7)  Align your concrete details vertically, horizontally, diagonally, however-you-choose!

Have fun! Imprint your style!  The more hands and heads and hearts involved, the merrier the process, the truer the story.

And, who’s to say you cannot complete this exercise to immerse yourself in the lives of your fictional characters?   J  

For those teachers needing a tried-and-true easy-to-follow classroom activity, click here for Portland, Oregon teacher Jaime R. Wood’s offering.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Families that Read and Write Together_______? Fill in the blank!

All sorts of delicious treats (and maybe even tricks) await children and their families on the other side of midnight this Thursday, thanks to National Family Literacy Day November 1.
Think: treats for the mind and heart, anytime, all the time.

Sponsored by the National Center for Family Literacy, the day has been celebrated since 1994.
Indeed the entire month of November celebrates Family Literacy.

Statistics show:

(1) Children whose parents regularly read to them during their first year of school make better grades in high school.
(2) Children who grow up in homes with lots of books tend to go further in school.
(3) Children learn from 4,000 to 12,000 new words each year as a result of reading books.

How’s that for facts to help fill in the blank of this post’s title?

All across the country, folks are booking family reading time.
Family members are reading to each other – in their homes, in cars, on planes, trains and busses.
Thanks to state Centers for the Book, public libraries, schools and bookstores, families are participating in read-a-thons and read-alouds.
(For specific school Family Literacy Night ideas, check out ProTeachers.)

As for bookstore celebrations, this Saturday, November 2, my Writers FamilyThe Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators – launches the Inside Story event at independent bookstores around the world.
I’m honored to be joining fellow SCBWI-Illinois members Gina Bellisario, Marlene Targ Brill, Jeff Ebbeler, Dimitri Lunetta, Kevin Luthardt and Aaron Reynolds at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville to share the “inside stories” of our latest books.

Click here to read the list of participating bookstores in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, Australia – and – in the U.S., in Washington, California, New Mexico, Utah, Florida and Massachusetts.

SCBWI’s Inside Story event is yet another opportunity for families to celebrate literacy.
But even better, it’s also an opportunity to support literacy. 
For this first-time-ever bookstore event, SCBWI is partnering with First Book, the nonprofit organization that connects book publishers and community organizations to provide access to new books for children in need. 
For each book purchased during the Inside Story event, the bookstore will donate $1 to First Book.

What does this effort mean for the millions of children who receive their first books from First Books?
I’m happy to fill in that blank with the recipients’ words.

Books are better than Recess,” says Briana, who received new books from First Book – Monroe County.

Thank you for the books. I like to read. I like to keep the books,” says Jonathan Evans.

Gracie says, “I like the library, but I love the books I get at Circles because those are mind to keep forever.”

So, once you tweak your Halloween costume and ready your Treats,
flip to your November calendar,
scan any and all bookshelves,
choose your venue
book your Family’s Reading Time.

Happy Reading and Writing, Family-style!

Esther Hershenhorn

Friday, October 25, 2013

Writing Inspired by Music

Many years ago, I watched a movie version of Cinderella. I suppose the kids must have watched it with me, but I don’t remember. What I do know is that a song—“Ten Minutes Ago: Waltz for a Ball”—stuck in my head. I waltzed around the house humming for days. And I thought, Wouldn’t it be fun to write to the rhythm of a waltz? I used that song as a template. Here’s what I (one, two, three, one, two, three) wrote.

Waltzing with the Wind

On a crisp golden day in autumn,
tufts of clouds drift through endless sky.
The wind tugs my sleeves
as it sweeps up the leaves
and teaches them how to fly.

The music begins with a whisper,
and branches all sway to the song.
The wind takes my hand
as it strikes up the band,
and I find myself dancing along.

Eager leaves, crimson, orange, and yellow,
leap and soar from each flame-colored tree.
The wind makes me twirl
as the leaves bow and swirl
in a flurry that whirls around me.

We glide, and we dip, and we circle
in a waltz of an autumn hue.
The music’s entrancing,
and while we are dancing,
each leaf has a partner, too.

Then a hush settles down from the treetops
as the wind tiptoes off with the tune.
The leaves touch the ground,
and I can’t hear a sound.
The dancing is over too soon.

I wait, and I watch, and I listen,
but the leaves have all flown from the trees.
The branches are bare.
There’s no sign anywhere
of the magical, musical breeze.

In the distance, a single note echoes.
One last leaf spirals down from the sky.
It beckons to me.
As it spins, I can see
that the wind is waving goodbye.
Try this: Think of a song you enjoy. Substitute your own words, keeping the rhythm the same. Have fun!

You, too, can watch and hear Paolo Montalban and Brandy sing “Ten Minutes Ago: Waltz for a Ball” from Cinderella (1997).

Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at “Live Your Poem...” with Irene Latham. Enjoy!

JoAnn Early Macken

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Making a Picture Book Text Dummy

At our SCBWI-Wisconsin Fall Conference last weekend, several speakers recommended making a picture book dummy before submitting a manuscript. For many years, I resisted the advice I heard about tackling such a project. At first, I thought “dummy” meant one of those pages of little boxes that illustrators use to create storyboards. I’m not an illustrator, so I couldn’t see the point. I could never fit all my text into those teensy little squares!

Now that I know the difference, I imagine it might help a writer to jot a brief note about what happens in each scene to visualize pacing and be sure there is enough illustration potential. But I’m talking about a different thing altogether. So let me make the distinction between an illustration dummy and a text dummy. Writers can do themselves a big favor by creating a text dummy on plain paper.

I started with 8 sheets of paper cut in half. I stapled them along one short side to make a 32-page dummy. I printed a copy of my manuscript and cut it into chunks.

Each chunk of text that describes a scene and/or creates a potential illustration can take up a page or even a whole spread in a picture book. That’s what you cut out and paste onto the dummy. Then you look at it with an eye to page turns, pacing, and amount of text per page. Even with the understanding that the final book could look completely different, it’s a worthwhile exercise. The concrete visual format makes problems easier to spot.

I found two good sources for text dummy info:

  • Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication by Ann Whitford Paul includes a chapter called “Cut and Paste—Making a Dummy Book.” She specifies three kinds of story changes that create reasons to change the page. She then lists ten important questions to ask when evaluating the text.

Making a text dummy of my work in progress showed me several good reasons to revise. Trying to paste the text in place made me realize that the story had too many scenes for potential illustrations. In addition, some chunks of text were too long to fit on a page. Time to cut!

So try it! Make a text dummy of your picture book manuscript. It certainly helped mine!

Thank you, SCBWI!

We Teaching Authors are honored to be included in the Featured Blog Scroll on the new SCBWI web site. If you haven’t visited our blog before, you can learn more about us on our About Us page. There, you’ll find links to our bios and introductory blog posts. Enjoy!

JoAnn Early Macken

Monday, October 21, 2013

Old Friends in My Front Hall

     My oldest and dearest friends live in my front hall. I am lucky enough to have an entrance that is a ten foot built-in bookcase, complete with library ladder.  On those shelves are my oldest friends, the books I read as a child and still love as an adult.

     If you've been reading the blog awhile, you know that I am a compulsive reader. As a school librarian I read everything that came in before I put on the school shelves.  I still read as many new books as I can possibly cram on my Kindle ( alas, book shelves have their limits, even when you weed them twice a year), but very few books I have read as an adult have had the same impact on me that the books I read in elementary school.

    I have read a lot of good books as an adult--The Percy Jackson series, the Hunger Games Trilogy, Libba Bray's The Diviners, My Family for the War by Anne C. Voohoeve.  As much as I enjoyed these books and would recommend them to anyone (hint, hint), I still crave my old friends.

   Who are these old friends? It depends on my mood.  When I need cheering up, Patrick Dennis's books, Auntie Mame, Auntie Mame Around the World and The Joyous Season never fail to make me laugh out loud. Note:  even though these three have child narrators and I read them in the sixth grade, they aren't considered children's literature.

     The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder is a good cure for the boy-I-think-I-have -problems feeling.  I just re-read The Long Winter, my favorite of them all, last week.  Chapter after chapter of blizzards, grinding wheat and twisting hay to burn as fuel, and your life, whatever it is, looks pretty good in comparison. (Yes, I know there are certain aspects of these books that are considered not so PC these days, but political correctness is a topic for a different post.)

    Days when life seems to be at best, confusing, I pull out my well worn Charlotte's Web, the only book I know that can make you laugh and cry in the same chapter. Templeton the rat remains one of my all time favorite characters, and I suspect, the originator of snark. 

   The Diary of a Young Girl reminds me that life goes on, no matter your circumstances. This was a book that I read so much in middle school that my original copy if held together with rubber bands. This was a book I all but crawled inside.  Sometimes I felt as if I were living with the Frank family instead of my own, they became so real to me.

     These are my old friends, the ones I return to time and again when I am sad or lonely or just having a crummy day.  Tell me who your old friends are, the books you read and re0read.

Posted by Mary Ann Rocman

Friday, October 18, 2013

Teen Read Week! Poetry Friday!

Howdy Campers and happy Poetry Friday!

Thanks to Cathy of MerelyDayByDay for hosting today!

(My own poem's below.) 

And did you know that October 13-19, 2013 is Teen Read Week?

Neither did I, until Carmela, who is always on top of things, pointed it out.

Teen Read Week is an initiative of Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), which is part of the American Library Association.

Launched in 1998, Teen Read Week is celebrated annually during the third full week in October. Aimed at teens, their parents, librarians, educators, booksellers and other concerned adults, the continuing message of the Teen Read Week initiative is to encourage 12- to 18-year-olds to "Read for the Fun of It." The 2013 sub-theme is Seek the Unknown @ your library.  Check out the FAQs here.

Help raise awareness about Teen Read Week and library services for teens here.

Can I be totally honest here?  Yes, I think I can.  I'm out of steam this week, I have only air-popped popcorn for brains right now...

so the only thing I can think to say about Teen Read Week is that teens today are LUCKY, LUCKY, LUCKY that they have so much wonderful literature to read...and that it's FREE at their local library.  (Never fear--my fellow bloggers will have lots to say about it in the next few days--stay tuned!)

Hooray for librarians in buses, bookmobiles and buildings small and tall, in towns and fields, malls and halls, for offering teens, 'tweens, kings and queens fine literature to have, to hold, to devour!  

 This is a medal for all librarians.

I was thinking about the theme Seek the Unknown @ your library.  Here's a poem from my teen novel in poems, Girl Coming in for a Landing, illustrated (in collage!) by Elaine Clayton (Knopf) that sorta-kinda fits the theme:

by April Halprin Wayland

Today Mr. C told us
about this scientist who pushed a vacuum cleaner
past a brood of ducklings
just as they were hatching
and how after that,
those ducklings followed the vacuum cleaner 
nearly glued to it.

Imprinting, he called it.

Which made me think
about last year
that first day of school
and how
I must have been
just as Carlo
walked past.
(c) April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.

Here's the URL of the SHORT video of baby ducks following the guy, which hopefully, you can see below. 

But it keeps crashing, so just go to YouTube and look up all the videos using the key words,
"baby ducks following" and watch those baby ducks go!

Posted by April Halprin Wayland who is grateful for the free photos of the popcorn and the medal from

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wednesday Writing Workout

Today's writing workout combines my Monday post with an exercise from Elaine Marie Alphin's Creating Characters Kids Will Love. That exercise is:

"Read the community news pages in your newspaper. Find an article about a kid who's done something special. Based on the information in the newspaper, plan how you would interview that particular youngster for an article for kids."

I hope you'll give this one a try. Magazines, especially, welcome articles highlighting kids who are making a positive difference in the world or their small corner of it.

Back in ye olden days (late 90s) when I was a green writer trying to build credits, I read an article in my local paper about a young man from a nearby city who had grown up in a home where the Mississippi River was literally in his backyard. He'd noticed lots of trash left behind by spring flooding, and, upon learning that nobody else was cleaning it up, he'd started spending his summer breaks doing so himself. When I interviewed him at age 23, he had just founded Living Lands & Waters, an organization dedicated to cleaning up not just the 2,300 miles of Mississippi River shoreline (4,600 miles, counting both banks!), but all American waterways.

I entered the article in a contest and did well, so I sent it on to Highlights for Children. They accepted the piece, publishing it in 2002. Since then, they've resold it 8 times, and that young man, Chad Pregracke (Google him. He's all over the internet.) has gone on to win dozens of awards, give countless interviews (mine was the first article written for kids), and spoken all over the world urging others to environmental activism. In fact, he has just been named one of the ten finalists for CNN's Heroes 2013 - Everyday People Changing the World award. You can read about that here (and vote for him!).

Back to writing....You never know when something you spot in your local paper could spark an idea that could pay off for you in ways both large and small (satisfaction and monetary compensation, in that order, ha). So keep your eyes peeled, and in the meantime, practice your interviewing and writing skills with Elaine's exercise.

Success = preparation + perseverance

Jill Esbaum

Monday, October 14, 2013

Bullying? Yeah, but...

Since I'm the last of us to blog about bullying, I wanted to end on a positive note. Although bullying is as awful here as anywhere else, something great happened in our school district recently that was like the first star shining in a black night sky. So who's up for a feel-good story?

The high school from which my kids graduated is in a nearby small town. Graduating classes average 200-225 seniors. Homecoming week is special. A student government-led food drive kicks off in a big way. A parade winds through streets lined with red-clad crowds cheering the marching band, floats from every conceivable club, clusters of elementary school walkers, etc. School spirit runs high through many long-held traditions. The entire week has a very Norman Rockwell-ish feel to it.

The selection of Homecoming King and Queen, though, is mostly a popularity contest. No surprise there. This year, though, one of the guys the student body included on the court was a special needs student, Alex (not his real name). Alex is the kind of guy who knows and loves everybody. When he walks the halls, he's constantly shouting greetings, high-fiving and flashing his bright smile. A staff member at the high school describes him as "always positive, always happy, always genuine."

Alex's parents nixed his participation in one Homecoming week tradition:   The 24 kids on the court spend the evenings leading up to Friday night's game TPing each other's houses. (The police pretty much look the other way, as they have for years and years. I know. Weird.) Since Alex couldn't be included in these hijinks, the other guys on the court arrived at his home on Thursday night and (prearranged with his parents) surprised him with a trip to a bowling alley. While he was gone, the 12 girls on the court (again, with his parents' okay) swooped in to decorate the inside of Alex's home and hang a big CONGRATS poster. Pretty cool.

Then the student body pulled off something that knocked the collective socks off the community. When the candidates lined up on the sideline during halftime of the big game, the king's crown was placed upon the unsuspecting head of . . . Alex.

Talk about classy. I wasn't there, but I'm told the roar that went up from the crowd was enough to give you goosebumps. 

With "dark" news bombarding us on a daily basis, I'm so grateful for stories like this one that bring back the light. They remind me that the vast majority of us are still guided by kindness and compassion. Shine on, peeps.

Jill Esbaum

Friday, October 11, 2013

Tribute to My Friend and Fellow Writer Laura Crawford

Today, I was supposed to continue our series of posts in honor of National Bullying Prevention Month. Instead, I've decided to dedicate this blog post in memory of my friend and fellow writer, Laura Crawford, who died on September 30 at the much-too-young age of 46. And since today is also Poetry Friday, I've included a poem at the end of this post inspired by Laura.

Those of you who've been following this blog for awhile may recognize Laura's name--she was our very first "Student Success Story" interview, posted back in 2009.  At that time, I had no idea Laura had been diagnosed with chronic lymphatic leukemia (CLL) the year before. As she wrote on her CaringBridge page, her disease was managed effectively with chemo and treatment until this past May, when it became more aggressive. That's when Laura chose to finally share the information about her illness with her many friends in the children's writing community. We were all shocked at the news. Laura was such a vibrant, energetic, optimistic person. You can get a sense of her vitality in the photo below, which is how I always picture her--bright-eyed and smiling. It was hard to imagine that she'd been dealing with cancer for five years.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer DuBose
But after the shock wore off, we still had hope, mainly because Laura herself sounded so hopeful. She was preparing for a bone marrow transplant. On September 22, she posted the following on her Facebook page:
"had a FANTASTIC weekend! I feel normal...and that is saying a lot. Thanks for all the visitors, laughs, treats, jello, ice cream and support of the new 'hairdo.' I'm so very blessed."
Like so many of Laura's friends, I was heartbroken when she passed away eight days later. It didn't seem possible. Even now, nearly two weeks later, my eyes fill with tears at the thought that I'll never see her smiling face again, at least not in this life.

We have a custom on our SCBWI-Illinois listserv to share "good news" about our writing and illustrating projects at the beginning of each month. Given the timing of Laura's death, Lisa Bierman, the Illinois chapter's co-regional advisor, invited members to share a short memory of Laura instead. Laura was a long-time SCBWI Network Representative for the Geneva, IL Network and a regular volunteer at the annual SCBWI-IL Prairie Writer's Day, so she was well-known throughout our writing community. The email tributes poured in. It was amazing, and uplifting, to read about how Laura had touched so many lives.

In my email to the listserv, I talked about how I first met Laura as my student, when she took my College of DuPage class in Writing for Children back in the summer of 2001. As I mentioned above, she was also our first "Student Success Story Interview" here on TeachingAuthors. After her death, I reread that blog entry and heard again Laura's exuberant voice. I also recalled how she almost hadn't made it into my class because it was filled before she registered. She'd called the college and asked if there was any way she could still register for the class, and my supervisor contacted me. I normally don’t make exceptions regarding maximum enrollments because I want to allow enough time for manuscript critiques, and I returned Laura's call planning to tell her so. I remember sitting in my home office talking with Laura. I could hear the enthusiasm in her voice. She told me how much she wanted to take the class, and that, being a teacher, she didn't have time to do so during the school year. When she asked me to please let her join the class, I couldn’t say no. J

I’m so grateful I made the exception to include Laura in the class. It was the beginning of a long, rewarding friendship. As it turned out, Cathy Cronin was also in that class. She, too, became a "Student Success Story" and a friend to both Laura and me. On Wednesday, October 2, Cathy and I drove together to attend Laura's wake and say a final good-bye. We learned from Laura's sisters that she'd kept writing and editing up until the end--she was optimistic that after her bone marrow transplant she'd be well again.

That evening, I decided I wanted to dedicate this blog post in Laura's memory, and to write a poem in her honor. I'd saved all the tributes posted on the SCBWI-Illinois listserv with the idea that I might write a "found poem" from what people had shared. Member after member wrote of Laura's warm smile, infectious laugh, generous spirit, amazing optimism, welcoming nature, and fun sense of humor. I soon realized I didn't want to write a "sappy" poem--Laura wouldn't have wanted that.

Then I thought of what Laura said in her Student Success Story interview about being a "math and science person." That gave me the idea to write my poem in the form of a “Fib,” a 5-line, 20-syllable poem with the number of syllables per line based on the Fibonacci sequence: 1/1/2/3/5/8. I thought this form would be especially appropriate because the Fibonacci sequence is often found in nature, and Laura loved nature. Plus, "Fibs" tend to be rather playful. [To read more about Fibs, see this blog post by Greg Pincus, author of the recently released middle-grade novel, The 14 Fibs of Gregory K (Arthur A. Levine Books).]

The Fib that follows was inspired by all the comments to the listserv, but especially by what Cathy Cronin wrote:
"I will always treasure her friendship. Her bright spirit will live on in all the hearts that she's touched and in all of her wonderful books. I am keeping a picture of her by my laptop as a reminder to 'Live like Laura.' She knew what was important to her and spent her time well. "
I agree with Cathy. Laura lives on in the hearts of all who knew her, not only the members of the children's writing community, but also the students she taught in her 20 years at Sleepy Hollow Elementary School. You can read more about how she touched their lives in this article.

Finally, here's my Fib poem in memory of Laura.

           To Live Like Laura
                    by Carmela Martino

           Laugh with gusto.
           Leave us grateful to have known you.
                 poem © 2013 Carmela Martino. All rights reserved.

For today's Poetry Friday round-up, head over to Laura Purdie Salas's blog.

And keep on writing!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How to Stop a Bully: Read a book and Write (especially on Wednesdays)!

Here’s hoping Jack, of I AM JACK fame and my Monday TeachingAuthors post, his creator Susanne Gervay and his U.S. publisher Kane Miller don’t mind my tweaking their terrific anti-bullying campaign logo – “Read a book.  Stop a bully.”

Of course, there's all sorts of action a person can take when up close and personal with a Bully, whether that person is the bullied, the bystander or the bully himself.
This being Wednesday, however, I’m focused on writerly action.

So here are three important anti-bullying books that prompt readers to pick up pen and paper and write from the heart, remembering and reflecting on what they’ve experienced first-hand and/or what they’ve witnessed

Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories (HarperTeen, 2011)
YA authors Carrie Jones and Megan Kelly Hall edited and contributed to this anthology of seventy personal bullying stories written by seventy well-known children’s and YA authors, including Carolyn Mackler, R.L. Stine, Lisa Yee and Eric Luper.  Booklist lauded the collection for its timeliness and the resources it offers, including an appended, annotated list of websites that furthers its usefulness and extends group discussion.
The book even has a website –
LETTERS TO A BULLIED GIRL: Messages of Healing and Hope by Olivia Gardner, Emily Buder, and Sarah Buder (William Morrow paperback, 2008)
When teenage sisters Emily and Sarah Buder read in the newspaper about the unforgiveable bullying of northern California middle schooler and epileptic Olivia Gardner, they initiated a campaign to get their friends to write Olivia letters of encouragement.  The effort spread like wildfire.  This book shares many of the letters in which the letter writers recollected a panorama of bullying incidents.

EACH KINDNESS by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin, 2012)
A Jane Addams Award Book and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book, EACH KINDNESS  beautifully underscores the “If only’s…” and lost opportunities  when one could have acted and shown kindness but didn’t.  In a starred review, SLJ noted the book “gives opportunity for countless inferences and deep discussion, inviting readers to pause, reflect, and empathize.”

Write on! Right on!

Esther Hershenhorn
Happy Birthday to my fellow TA JoAnn Early Macken, her twin sister Judy, our reader Linda Baie and our reader Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ husband! J

Don’t forget! Only a few hours remain to enter our Book Giveaway of Alexis O’Neill’s newest book The Kite That Bridged Two Nations.
                                                                    * * *

It’s Unity Day! Make it orange and make it end!  Unite against bullying!
Wear orange – or write with an orange crayon or magic marker – or even just write while drinking a class of orange juice!

In EACH KINDNESS, Chloe realizes it was too late to show her
now-departed classmate Maya kindness.

            “That afternoon, I walked home alone.
            when I reached the pond, my throat filled with
            all the things I wished I would have said to Maya.
            Each kindness I had never shown.

            I threw small stones into it, over and over.
            watching the way the water rippled out and away.
            Out and away.

            Like each kindness – done and not done.
            Like every girl somewhere –
            holding a small gift out to someone
            and that someone turning away from it.”

It’s never too late to turn around an “If only…”
Take a moment. 
Remember a time in which you stood by and watched someone being bullied.
(If you need to jog your memory, take the Pacer survey.)

Now, address the victim, as in - Dear ______.
Describe the situation – the place, the time, the situation, the people present, what was at stake.  Can you remember the weather, the nearby sounds, what you were thinking, why you chose to act as you did. (Note: April's WWW offers further suggestions for concrete details.)

Then write the words you wished you'd said.