An artist educator, author and writing coach, Rochelle founded
Dream Keepers, a writing workshop for young people.
Mightier Than the Sword, though, is bound to help middle grade
writers – as well as writers of all ages - keep their writing dreams
alive. Rochelle shares stories of people throughout history –
historical and contemporary writers, activists, scientists, and
leaders - who used their writing to change lives and their
communities. Think: Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, Murasaki
Shikibu, William Shakespeare, Gene Luen Yang and Jan Morris, just to
name a few. Each and every story inspires and encourages young
readers – and writers – “to pay attention to their world, to honor
their own ideas and dreams, to use their words, art, and action to
transform their lives communities, and beyond.” Writing and creative
exercises accompany each story; sidebars explore types of writing,
fun facts, and further resources. Rochelle reminds readers: “Your
words have the power to transform you and your world.”
Mexican artist Melina Ontiveros’ beautiful illustrations bring the
story subjects to life on the page.
Thanks, Rochelle, for sharing ways to explore the world around us –
and without even leaving our neighborhood – especially now that
we’re in a POST-Pandemic World.
. . . . . . .
Thankfully, being a writer has
equipped me with some tools for
finding novelty in everyday
life. Here are three ways you can
use writing to explore the world
around you (without leaving
(1) Capture a personality!
When she was a young journalist, Jan Morris (1926-2020) covered
Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay as they summited Mount
Everest, the world’s highest mountain. She went on to become an
accomplished travel writer, composing literary portraits of Venice,
Trieste, Wales, Manhattan, Hong Kong, and more. Morris was
known for writing about places as if they were people, capturing
their personality. When age and the pandemic limited her travel,
Morris walked a thousand steps a day—down her lane and back
again—often writing about her journey.
Try this: Write a profile of a place you know well—your backyard,
your neighborhood, or your town. Capture your impression of your
favorite place. As Morris said, “I resist the idea that travel writing
has got to be factual.”
(2) Capture danger!
Have you ever wanted to explore a volcano? Rosaly Lopes is a
Brazilian geologist and volcanologist who studies the surface of
planets and specializes in examining volcanoes. Her book, The
Volcano Adventure Guide, introduces readers to volcanoes across
the planet and offers them tips and tools on how to safely explore
and photograph active volcanoes.
Try this: If you had the change to visit an active volcano, what would
you write on a postcard to your friends and family? Imagine visiting an
erupting volcano or consider some of the dangerous things you see
every day (reckless drivers, violent thunderstorms, people texting while
walking). Write a postcard poem that captures a dangerous event.
(3) Capture a journey!
When the United States made the Louisiana Purchase, much of the
newly acquired territory had never been explored. President Thomas
Jefferson asked Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to find a route
west. Beginning near St. Louis, Missouri, the two men and their team
traveled to the West Coast and home again. They chronicled their trip
in journals. As a result of their travels, they identified and documented
new plants, animals, and Western geography and created some of the
first maps of the area. Their journey, maps, and journals opened a new
frontier for agriculture, trade, and settlements. But their journals also
captured the spirit of their journey across America and the culture of
the West of that time.
Try this: Create a travel journal for yourself—but instead of
documenting a trip, write about your daily life. Journal about your
morning walk, your trip to a neighborhood park, a local museum, or a
zoo. Or go internal: and write about a journey through your heart,
your conscience, or your digestive track! You might even make a map
of your journey!
How will you capture your world in a new way?
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