Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Write Start and Rip the Page

Long time Gifted Exchange readers know that nurturing the talents of writers is one of my biggest interests within gifted education. Often, we focus on talented young mathematicians as the obvious geniuses among us, and schools in general are more prepared to do acceleration in math than in other subjects. But good writing also requires training, discipline and challenge.

So I thought I'd share two books that crossed my desk over the past year (after their publisher, Trumpeter, sent them to me). The Write Start, by Jennifer Hallissy, features a series of activities designed to make young children comfortable expressing themselves in words. These include everything from writing love notes and press releases to making scrapbooks. Each activity can be adapted for four levels of young children: scribblers (very little ones), spellers (those who can write their letters), storytellers (those who can express ideas in writing), and scholars ("writers who have also become readers"). Hallissy is a pediatric occupational therapist, and believes that pen/pencil/crayon writing is a very important brain development step for young children. Since I learned writing and reading back in 1984 with an early computer program called Writing to Read, I tend to think that learning to write on computers is fine too. But either way, the more children come to believe that writing is fun, the better.

What happens once they get older? That's where Rip the Page! by Karen Benke comes in. This book for 8-12 year olds is billed as "adventures in creative writing." Children do various activities such as re-writing cliches, writing fortunes for Chinese fortune cookies, composing acrostic poems, writing a biography for a color, and writing in the same style as different poets. All can spark the imagination, and hopefully will start young writers in creating their own longer stories.

How have you nurtured your young writers?


gasstationwithoutpumps said...

"How have you nurtured your young writers?"

Perhaps a more important question: how have you help your youngsters cope with writer's block (perhaps caused by "perfectionist paralysis")?

Easter said...

National Novel Writing Month! Their young writer's program is a tradition in our home, and I've encouraged many students to try it, also. It's a month-long writing challenge that also addresses gasstationwithoutpump's concerns - there's no time for writer's block when you have to meet your daily word count, and it places a lot of emphasis on the importance of the terrible first draft. Highly reccommended!

lgm said...

Story telling is a major part of our heritage. We passed down stories from our chilhood, invented new ones and told each other and eventually the children filled up composition books with their own.

Stefany S said...

We were fortunate to have Karen Benke lead an afterschool poetry workshop during my daughter's school book fair last fall - I also highly recommend Rip the Page. My daughter is in 2nd grade and a gifted writer - this workshop was one of her favorite experiences EVER in school. She talked about it for days afterward and came home with an incredible poem that she was very proud to share.

Ingi said...

My kids are gifted readers, but both reluctant writers. We are using Brave Writer's "Writer's Jungle" - and so far they are being wonderfully creative and descriptive!

My son also has motor dyspraxia, so as well as practising touch-typing and using Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition, I am trying the Speed Up! program to get him writing faster and clearer.

Both kids have such vivid imaginations and great ideas, and it is important that somehow we get those on paper!

Anonymous said...

My son's problem is that he thinks so much faster than he can write. I'm encouraging him to type. I don't fuss about handwriting as long as it's legible, but I do mention how nice his handwriting is when he's not in a hurry. I've also told him he doesn't have to worry about spelling, or even complete sentences, on a first draft. He can be Mr. Perfectionist on the final draft.

Mary-Esther said...

If you're interested in more books about writing, check out my website. It's at Look for Writer under Book Selections.