A couple months ago I received an advance copy of Subway Ride, written by Heather Lynn Miller, in the mail from Charlesbridge Publishers. It’s a new title from the Massachusetts-based publisher this year. As I flipped through the book, I was impressed with the colorful illustrates, by Sue Rama, which accurately depict subway stations around the world. However, after reading the book a few times, I realized this text could be used in a Writing Workshop to teach younger students about varying sentence lengths in their writing.
Miller wrote the text with a variety of sentence structures. There are some sentence fragments and simple sentences. There are also some longer sentences, which include prepositional phrases, in the text. I can envision using this book in a primary grade classroom with children who need to break out of the simple sentence structure rhythm, which little kids often get accustom to using.
This book might be best-suited for a strategy lesson, in which you group children of the same writing ability, for students who need assistance using a variety of sentence lengths. You can think aloud about what Miller did, as a writer. For instance, for a slightly longer sentence, such as, “Subway whizzes down the track,” I might say: I notice that the author wants me to make a picture in my mind about where the train is going. She doesn’t just say that the subway whizzes, or passes, by. Instead, she tells me that the subway is whizzing, or heading, down the track, which helps me picture how and where the train is moving. However, for fragments like “Rushing breeze,” I might say: I think the author used an incomplete thought here in order to make me, the reader, stop and think about how the breeze was moving. I can feel the train zooming by me, causing the air to turn to wind, rushing by my face. By writing just a couple of words, and then putting a period at the end of them, I think the author wants me to stop and think about what that would feel like.
Interested to learn more about Subway Ride, which went on-sale yesterday? Just click here!
I am a literacy consultant who has spent the past dozen years working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grades K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).