I admire people who can write well. It is not a quality I possess and therefore I am in awe of those that are able to put their thoughts down on paper eloquently.
I bow to those that are able to do this in front of a group of students during writers’ workshop.
Writers’ workshop always terrifies me because I know my own writing is so inadequate that I am fearful of showing students my own work. But, of course, I do it anyway.
After years of modeling with my own writing and then being disappointed because the students weren’t writing stellar pieces, I began to search for mentor texts and books to help show the students what GOOD writing looks like.Here are some of my favorite books to begin talking about writing and stories in general.
Tell Me the Day Backwards by Albert Lamb is not really about writing, but rather about talking and thinking. In order for students to be able to write a good story, they have to think about it and know it in their hearts and minds. I really like this book for thinking through a moment or event and telling the parts in order. While the book doesn't emphasize elaboration, I think it could be a good springboard to start discussing the importance of thinking through an event or idea.
Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon captures the struggle of reluctant writers. It gave me new insight into the minds of the students who seem 'off-task' during writers' workshop.
I think Tad Hills sends a good message in Rocket Writes a Story that there is always a lot of revision when writing. I especially like how the bird in the story mentions that writing a story takes time. Students (and adults) seem to feel like the first draft is the done draft and this book helps to promote revision and lingering with ideas.
I wouldn't advocate to read this book aloud cover to cover, but I think it has many interesting tips that can be woven into a writers' workshop. I like that the snippets are short enough to read aloud, but give information to think about.