Sunday, June 13, 2010

Word After Word After Word

Word After Word After Word by Patricia MacLachlan is a must have for teachers of writing. It is actually set in a 4th grade classroom, but the take-away message from this book is how important words are, and that we all have words inside of us. Some of us just need to work a little harder to find them.

This book reminds me of several other books. One is Sarah Plain and Tall (another MacLachlan story) because of the simplicity of words, and how one character can make such a profound difference in so many lives (the fact that at one point there is actually a quote from Sarah Plain and Tall is wonderful). I also thought about Love That Dog and Hate that Cat (Sharon Creech) because all three books deal with an author who makes a difference in someone's life as a writer, and helps to unlock the words that allow them to tell their story.

There were several lines that jumped out at me, that I thought I would share:
  • "I, myself, write to change my life to make it come out the way I want it to. But other people write for other reasons: to see more closely what it is they are thinking about, what they many be afraid of. Sometimes writers write to solve a problem, to answer their own question."
  • "...we have to understand how important place is in our poetry, our stories. Your character lives in a place that helps shape their character."
  • "Writing... is ... brave."
All of these lines are spoken by a visiting author that is spending some extended time with a particular 4th grade class (lucky students!).

In my writing workshop, I have read aloud and used many mentor texts (usually picture books or short texts) to help my students be better writers. However, I've never considered doing a read aloud that just happens in my writing workshop time, separate from our regular read aloud. Word After Word After Word is making me rethink that. As I read, I thought about how perfectly this book would weave in with the craft lessons I use from Georgia Heard and Ralph Fletcher. I thought about how well it would fit with our 5th grade first trimester writing map as we start to look at the structures of writing and the craft of writing. I thought about how well it would complement some of the mentor texts I already use. But more than that, this is a book to be revisited throughout the year.

Word After Word After Word is a story about giving children a voice and encouraging them and supporting them to use that voice as a writer. How perfect is that?!!


  1. Sounds like a book I would enjoy. Can I borrow it from you? If so, bring it to class on Monday. See you then.

  2. Actually, class on Monday is at my house, so the book will be here. You are welcome to borrow it. :)

  3. Just finished reading it today-I think I will take her idea about introducing the parts of the story and use books that the students will recognize from fourth grade or even books that I will read later in the year as my text examples.