Thursday, October 8, 2009

Let’s Hear it for Opportunities and Possibilities!

Find out about our TeachingAuthors Book Giveaway running all this week! Click here for details on how to enter for a chance to win your own autographed copy of S is for Story: A Writer’s Alphabet. And be sure to try out the related Writing Workout at the end of this post. Now here's the fourth in our series of Q&A posts related to Esther Hershenhorn’s newest book, S is for Story: A Writer’s Alphabet, an A-to-Z journey through a writer’s life and process.

Jeanne Marie:
How would you like to see teachers, parents, and young readers and writers use S is for Story: A Writer’s Alphabet?

I decided to follow my own advice when creating my Writer’s Alphabet.

“K is for four Kinds of Writing,
each a style to know
Describe or preach?
Recount or teach?
Think purpose, then readers, then GO!”

My purpose was to inform, inspire and affirm young writers – as well as – celebrate the all-important Reader-Writer Connection.

And, my audience was young writers.

Fortunately, the iconic two-tiered format of Sleeping Bear Press’s alphabet books made the going easy and doable. Each entry’s rhymed verse captures the essence of the selected word for younger readers, ages 6 to 8. The accompanying sidebar’s text written in prose enhances, amplifies, and extends the chosen word. Of course, each of Zak Pullen’s compelling images visually tells the chosen letter’s story.

Most of my texts offer mini-Writing Lessons – e.g., how to create rounded characters, how to brainstorm, how to use a Writer’s Notebook.

Many of my entries include Writer’s Tips – e.g., on saving drafts, editing, collecting ideas, naming characters.

Each double-page spread shares a relevant, meaningful quote from a treasured award-winning children’s book author.

Young writers can use the book on their own – turning the pages from A to Z, or choosing letters at random, or singling out a specific element of narrative, writing process step, or subject of interest that draws their interest. The mini-lessons, the Writer’s Tips, the peeks at how writers work and the authors’ words are young writer-friendly, young-writer accessible.
In the classroom, library, or home, teachers, librarians and parents can do the same, using the entries to introduce, support, extend, and/or summarize a specific item of the writing curriculum. Included writing tools, such as Writer’s Notebooks, journals, and letters, are meant to be tried. Referenced children’s book authors, titles, and characters are meant to be read and explored, sparking authors’ studies to help writers grow.

Whether sitting on a writer’s bookshelf at home, in the library, or in the classroom, S is for Story: A Writer’s Alphabet offers limitless possibilities and opportunities to seed and feed young writers. The trick, Christopher Paul Curtis reminds readers, is to “make sure the writing’s got your own natural funk all over it.”

• Zachary Pullen’s singular, compelling S is for Story: A Writer’s Alphabet’s illustrations reflect his respect for young writers and writing. Visit Zak’s website to learn more about his work and other books.
• My website offers Young Writers Extras – opportunities to write, read and discover, at home, in school, or at the library.
• Visit my website’s newest page, Tour, to learn the What, When and Where of my out-and-about book events, signings, school visits, conference engagements, writer presentations, teacher workshops and upcoming October-through November Blog Tour.
• Click here for Sleeping Bear Press’ Teacher’s Guide to S is for Story: A Writer’s Alphabet.

Writing Workout
Some writers borrow expressions to use as pen names, names under which they write. For instance, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson translated his first two names into the Latin “Carolus Lodovious” and then into the English pen name Lewis Carroll.

Mark Twain’s true name was Samuel Clemens, P. L. Travers was borne Helen Lyndon Goff. Theodore Geisel used the title Dr. Seuss. Paging R. C. O’Brien? Try Robert Leslie Conly. Write Lemony Snicket c/o Daniel Handler.

Create a pen name for you to use.
Think about foreign languages, code words, synonyms, antonyms, acronyms, the street on which you live, favorite characters, names of pets.

[Note: Book images used with permission.]

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