Monday, January 30, 2017

Five Fingers/Five Titles for Teaching Young Authors (And Those Young-At-Heart)

So, to answer April’s insightful question posed in her Friday post, you can find my current fingerprint all over today’s post, literally and figuratively.

For a variety of reasons too many to share, it’s the TEACHING part of my TeachingAuthor handle that currently fills my days. I’m a gardener of sorts, seeding and feeding writers, helping others tell their stories to young readers.  I pinch myself daily, honored to be doing so.  I also remain grateful.  Ironically, it is I who likely blooms fuller from helping such singular folks grow their diverse offerings.

As luck would have it, I often have the chance to seed and feed Young Authors. I take joy when sharing writing resources, opportunities, connections and book titles (how-to’s, biographies, autobiographies, related fiction) with teachers, librarians, parents, booksellers – and best of all, the young writers themselves who squeeze me out like a sponge.

Here are five titles I’ve recently added to my Young Authors hand-out, though in truth, all five speak to writers of all ages.

👍WRITING WITH ROSIE by Patricia Reilly Giff (Holiday House, 2016)
Thumbs up for award-winning author Patricia Reilly Giff’s writing how-to book for writers and readers ages 8-12.  The subtitle says it all: You can write a story too.
In conversational chapters that engage, amuse (thanks to her dog Rosie), inform and inspire, Giff introduces the elements of narrative (character, plot, setting, conflict, resolution), shares how she dealt with those elements, offering specific Show, Don’t Tell examples from her published books (CAN YOU SEE HOW I DID IT?), then gives the young writer a chance to try his hand (YOUR TURN). Kirkus called it “the best recent writing guide for young readers and writers.”  Giff knows her audience and how to reach them in age-appropriate meaningful ways.  Holiday House also offers an accompanying Educators Guide with Instructional Standards.  Giff’s spirit abounds.  “Writing is a joyous part of my life. I want that joy for you too, because we all have stories to tell.”

👌 WHERE ARE THE WORDS? by Jodi McKay and Denise Holmes (Albert Whitman, 2016)
 McKay’s introduction to punctuation marks and how they work to tell a story is A-OK!  Thanks to Holmes’ reader-friendly illustrations, the marks come to life, building on each other’s expertise to help Period tell his tale.  The resulting story appears at the end, punctuated correctly.  Young readers ages 4 to 8 come to know each mark in a way that makes their usage unforgettable. 

👏 HOW THIS BOOK WAS MADE by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex (Disney-Hyperion, 2016)
Applause! Applause! There’s finally a fun picture book that SHOWS readers in pictures and in words how a writer’s idea becomes a book they can hold in their own two hands. In between there are “dangerous animals, an angry mob, unreasonable editorial demands, high-seas adventure and traffic.” The Narrator-dash-Writer writes and rewrites and works with his editor so the illustrator can make his art in a timely fashion so the publisher can print the book so it eventually can sit reader-ready on a shelf! There’s just enough absurdity to keep the reader laughing but just enough reality to keep the reader and future writer learning. Barnett and Rex make making a book understandable and fun.

THE UNCORKER OF OCEAN BOTTLES by Michelle Cuevas and Erin E. Stead (Dial, 2016) 
High Fives to Cuevas for her gorgeous writing and Stead for her beautiful illustrations that capture the uncorker’s one-of-a-kind life and heart-stopping situation. This book deservedly sits on numerous Best Books of 2016 lists – SLJ, the Boston Globe, People Magazine and Time. The story is a keeper, like the unaddressed party invitation the nameless character receives.  Bottled messages especially appeal to young writers. Wonder prevails and gets us all “What-if?-ing.” Just think about the author, to launch a story idea.  Or think about the recipient.  Maybe think about the message.  It’s a terrific device when a writer needs to step into another person’s – or character’s – shoes, as both the writer and the reader. A bottled message and its mystery make a swell story hook, too.  

A CHILD OF BOOKS by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston (Candlewick Press, 2016)
V is for victory in Jeffers’ prose poem.  Beautifully illustrated by Winston’s clever typographical images created from text from favorite classics, all the words – both Jeffers’ and Winston’s - sing the praises of the travel opportunities stories bring the reader. Might this be the perfect explanation for how readers become writers?  How might young writers create text images from their favorite stories to create stories of their own? (Oh, to have a classroom of young writers ripe for such an assignment!)

🤞 My fingers are crossed you’ll come to know, explore and use the above five titles, whether sharing them with Young Writers or telling your stories.


Esther Hershenhorn


michelle kogan said...

"The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles! Is Wonderful, as is your post, thanks Esther!

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Thanks for stopping by, Michelle.
THE UNCORKER OF OCEAN BOTTLES is so much YOUR kind of story - in images AND words.

Shelley S said...

Good Morning, Esther. I love your blog and will check out all of these books!! The TeachingAuthors website and blog is great! Thank you--Shelley Smitheon

Mary Ann Rodman said...

Esther--Such a great post, and I envy your teaching days. I have Writing with Rosie, but I need to check out the rest of your list for next summer's writing camps.

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Hopefully, Shelly and Mary Ann, I'll soon be sharing word of my latest addition to my list of new books for writers - Matthew Bird's STORY.

Carla Killough McClafferty said...

Thanks, Esther, for another fabulous post. These books sound amazing.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thanks for keeping us up-to-date, Esther. You were views are always helpful, and these are particularly inspiring.

Shanah Salter said...

Great post Esther, I feel like you are standing in front of me in class again, stroking the book covers :)