I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July!
In the summer, I like to balance my professional reading with reading for pleasure. I think it is important to take care of ourselves as teachers, and as writers who love to read. Today, I want to suggest two titles, one book for teachers and one book for writers, on a similar theme. Because they are so well written, I do think they will also remind you how joyful the reading experience can be as well…
Katie Wood Ray’s classic Wondrous Words provides practical advice for all teachers who want to embed inquiry-based writing instruction into their work with students. Her book is full of ideas on how to help even our youngest students notice craft techniques used by authors. When students then try their hand at these crafts, they understand what it means to “read like a writer”. When I first saw Katie present these ideas years ago in a district-sponsored workshop, I changed my instruction the next day and never looked back.
If you are at all like me during staff development workshops, there comes a time when you ask yourself: Is this what it is really like in the real world? Do writers really do this thing we call “reading like a writer”? Yes, in fact, they do! I have read dozens of books by professional writers who provide tips to those of us just getting started. A universal tip in all of these books?
Read all the time.
Read books like the ones you want to write.
In future posts, I will suggest titles from professional writers you may want to check out. We are lucky to have so many guides in our midst! But today, I want to feature a book by Francine Prose:
Yes, it is true: professional adult writers read like writers too. Francine Prose’s book Reading Like a Writer is not written for teachers, but for writers. You will find many similar ideas in Katie Wood Ray’s book, but here, it is just for you. If you want to become a stronger writer, Francine Prose recommends you look no further than the books you love and the writers you admire. They can become your teachers. She not only provides very practical advice, but she had me running to my library and local bookstore to read (or re-read) classics and books by new authors I had never heard of. If you like to learn about how great writers make their ideas “work”, then this book is definitely a must-read. And you don’t have to set your sights on writing the great American novel to appreciate all that Francine has to teach us. She is the literature and writing teacher we all wish we could have had in college.
Enjoy! Some book tips for pleasure reading mentioned in these two books is coming soon!