It’s been over a week since my last post. It’s NaNoWriMo for Novelists – a madhouse of writing 50,000 words in a month and I’m doing my best to keep up. But it’s time for another Writing Conference boost. To review, our outline is:
wRiting Effort DoUbled by Concentrated Educational Details
Today is Educational. And we are going to talk about…education. Creative, huh?
This concept is so simple, it’s easy to forget…Go back to school. I’m not suggesting that you should sit in on a third grade lesson, but look at what kids these days are reading. I guarantee it’s very different from what you read as a kid.
I turned 40 this year. As a child, I read Judy Blume, Madeleine L’Engle and ten-pound school anthologies. That’s it. The librarian at my elementary school failed miserably at her job and didn’t even know it. I remember the first time I stepped into that library – the smell of ink and paper was as rich to me then as a strong cup of coffee is now. We were in the LIBRARY! I was certain this was the place, the once-a-week half hour when we would hear a story, a haven of time in my week when I could explore books and escape work. How wrong I was!
It was Dewey or Die.
The library was meticulously organized, dusted and decorated. Books were lined neatly with the edge of the shelves – right where the librarian wanted them to be. After my first library visit, I left with one picture book that had to be returned the next week. There was no story read to us. It was all rules and decimal systems.
On the counter near the door stood a coffee can of rulers for us to use when we explored the bookshelves. Yeah. Rulers. It wasn’t to measure our reading ability. If we saw a title that sounded interesting, we were to slide the ruler next to the book before taking the book off the shelf. This assured that all the books would still be in place when the class left.
Talk about judging a book by its title!
She never introduced us to C.S. Lewis, Beverly Cleary or Paul Flieshman. In fact, our school library was divided into grade-appropriate shelves. Older students were not allowed to check out picture books and younger students were not allowed near the chapter books. That meant the older students who struggled with reading were only allowed to check out books that were too difficult for them. Those who excelled in the early grades were stunted in their reading development because they were not given the opportunity to read the more difficult books.
As a writer, this opens a market for you. High-interest, low-reading difficulty for struggling students, to name one. These could be non-fiction books with shorter sentences and paragraphs with age -appropriate information. Or, stories written in a simpler sentence structure that offer exciting adventures.
So, learn what’s out there already. Study the masters – not necessarily those who make the NY Times Bestseller Lists, but books that break molds, that have stood the test of time, the banned books. Read the genre that fits with your writing. And then make a note of who published it, see if you can find the agent that represented that author and when your story is finished and polished, send it to them.
If you are like my students, you are wondering, “How many books should I read?” The answer is: Read a little of what interests you every day. No matter where you are in your writing journey, stop and take a week, or a month to read the new releases. Or, if you are like me and didn’t have teachers who encouraged you to read, go back and read what you missed.
http://bitly.com/SsDwSF – link to HAISIN Recommended Reading Lists 2012, a list of books for children. If you write for children, learn what’s out there, see what’s selling, talk to parents about what they are looking for in a story, in a non-fiction book.
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
The Penderwicks (a series) by Jeanne Birdsall
Inkspell, Inkheart, Inkdeath (a trilogy) by Cornelia Funke
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
And if you are interested in supporting this author, try: Gateways, by Me available @ http://amzn.to/SYiT3W
If you have any other reading suggestions, please share! Include the age level and genre.
- Writing Conference Without the Conference – Day 2: Effort (jessicaschaubbooks.com)