Good reading makes for good writing! Here are three books I love to bring into the classroom to engage young writers’ imaginations.
If by Sarah Perry, is a simple text with fantastic illustrations. Using ideas such as “If cats could fly…” and “If leaves were fish…” the book asks its readers to use their imaginations to ponder the possibilities of small changes to the world we know. These ideas are a great jumping-off point for young writers. I like to ask them to write stories about one day when they wake up to find one small thing has changed about the world, and the big differences that one small change can make.
My Map Book by Sara Fanelli is a collection of surprising maps drawn with a childlike sense of the world. Using the concept of “map” rather loosely, Fanelli shows us not only maps of her neighborhood and her room, but also maps of her family, her tummy, and imaginary places. Young writers like to draw their own maps in response to this book; these maps help them focus on an idea for writing about aspects of their lives.
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox is the story of a boy who tries to find out what “memory” is so that he can help his friend, an elderly woman, who he hears has lost hers. After being told that a memory is “something warm,” “something that makes you laugh,” “something that makes you cry,” “something from long ago,” and “something as precious as gold,” he assembles a box full of items that he hopes will fit the bill. I ask my young writers to create their own “memory boxes” that are filled with short memoirs about an item they have that fills each category. This helps them see how even small objects can contain and represent powerful memories and emotions.
There are so many wonderful children’s books out there that can inspire writers at all levels. What are your favorite children’s books, and how have they inspired you?
posted by Tria Wood, Writers in the Schools