Monday, October 19, 2020

Russ on Reading: 7 Ways to Help Young Writers

Russ on Reading: 7 Ways to Help Young Writers
7 Ways to Help Young Writers

This week I have been reading a new biography of my literary hero, John Steinbeck, Mad at the World: A Life  of John Steinbeck by William Souder. In the book Souder quotes Steinbeck's favorite writing teacher, Edith Mirrielees, an English professor at Stanford University, as saying, "Writing can't be taught, but it can be helped." This put me in mind of the work  the psycholinguist, Frank Smith, who wrote an article titled, Reading Like a Writer, in which he posited that most of what a writer learns about writing is learned, not through instruction, but through reading in a special way - reading like someone who thinks they are a member of the "writing club."

Of course, even if writing can't really be taught and even if most of what a child learns about writing is learned by reading, there is still plenty of opportunity for the teacher to help, to be the guide on the side. Here are some good ways to help.

  1. Provide regular opportunities to write on self-selected topics. In order to feel like a member of the writing club, kids need to view writing as a regular part of their lives. Daily writing time puts the developing writer into a perpetual state of rehearsal for writing.  For example, because I knew I would be writing this blog entry today, I have been rehearsing, reading, and jotting notes on CONTINUE READING: Russ on Reading: 7 Ways to Help Young Writers