Inspiring Independent Writing Project Mentor Text (Part 1 of 5)
I used to dedicate the final month of most school years to independent writing projects. Students would work in the genre of their choice, which meant I had to really be on my toes when it came to conferring. Therefore, I wanted to share five different books with you, for the next five Thursdays, you might use to inspire your students’ independent writing projects.
I’ve loved words every since my first grade teacher, Carol Snook, took long, large strips of paper and covered our classroom walls, floor to ceiling, with homonyms. My love of words blossomed further in tenth grade when Mr. Dippery strengthened our vocabulary by teaching us five – ten powerful new words each week. I loved teaching vocabulary to my students when I was in the classroom since I think knowing the meaning of words and how to use them properly fuels one’s writing. Nowadays I keep a dictionary app on my iPhone so I can instantly look up and learn the meaning of new words I encounter when I read. Therefore, when a review copy of I Scream! Ice Cream! A Book of Wordles by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Serge Bloch arrived, I was giddy with excitement. This is a book about word play. (Scroll to the bottom of the post for a peek inside of the book.) Before the author and illustrator launch into the wordles, there’s some guidance. First, the book teaches readers what wordles are and then gives an example. Then, the author reminds readers to “Try to guess what the second wordle is before you turn the page.” Therefore, it’s highly interactive.
If you have wordsmiths in your class, you might encourage them to create a word play book for their independent writing project. (Also, this book is a great tool for use with students if you want to have fun with vocabulary instruction!)
I asked Amy Krouse Rosenthal some questions about I Scream Ice Cream. As always, I hope the answers to my questions help to enhance your use of this book with your students.
Q. Your latest book, I Scream Ice Cream! is a book of wordles. Where did the idea come from?
It came from The Land of WordPlay, a lush and loopy little place I love and frequently visit.
Q. Would you provide a kid-friendly definition of homonyms and wordles that teachers can use with their students when they introduce this book?
If homonyms are words that sound identical but mean different things (like here and hear), then wordles are WHOLE PHRASES OR SENTENCES that sound identical but mean different things. Like “I Scream” and “Ice Cream.” Like “heroes” and “he rows”!
Q. What do you hope kids will take away from this book?
That language is a rockin’ cool thing. That playing with words is a blast and engages the mind and also happens to be an inviting gateway to further literary exploration.
Q. The text and illustrations work exceedingly well together. Did you and Serge Bloch collaborate during the production of this book? (Please tell us more.)
I’m glad you think so. I love love love Serge’s work. Yes we were able to collaborate, and lucky me, I even got to meet him at his wonderful studio in Paris…but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that a whopping big reason this all works so well together is my editor at Chronicle Books, Victoria Rock, and book designer Sara Gillingham.
And I have an interesting, serendipitous connection to Serge. It’s relayed in this short video I made about my friend Charise (as in Charise Mericle Harper, author/illustrator extraordinaire). The story about the little book you see in the video is Serge’s book: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6al_aehISgE
Q. You’re one of the most prolific children’s authors. Your books delight time after time. (Duck! Rabbit!, Exclamation Mark, Plant a Kiss are a few personal favorites.) Where do your book ideas come from? What inspires you to write?
Everything inspires me.
My three favorite things in the world are a) my family b) potato chips and c) ideas…I’m always thinking of ideas because I just love doing so.
Actually, I’d add music to the list. It’s a big hobby for me. And for some reason, I seem to come up with a fair amount of ideas at concerts, live music performances of any kind.
Q. Would you share your writing process with us?
I type on the keyboard over and over and over again. That’s pretty much it.
Wanna hear a funny story about writing? Oh good.
When my son was little (he’s now a big teenager) he was asking me about my job, about being a writer. I tried to explain it to him. He thinks about it for a minute, processing what I said, and then says to me, “I see. So basically, you try to use all the letters.”
That’s about the best and most accurate description of the writing process I ever heard!
Q. Do you use a writer’s notebook? If so, how?
Not really. It’s more like everything for me is a notebook/journal– post-it notes, random scraps of paper in my purse, envelopes, ATM receipts, the note app on my phone, even the palm of my hand.
I’m constantly jotting down thoughts/ideas on anything I can get my hand on. Including I guess my hand.
Q. What are you working on presently?
I am always working on a bunch of things at once. This is how I work best, just my natural way/approach. So let’s see. I’m working on several new children’s books, all in different stages of production. One with illustrator Brigette Barrager. A follow-up to Plant a Kiss with Peter Reynolds. A book called Friendshape (not a typo– a book about friendship starring the four basic shapes) with Tom Lichtenheld. And my first picture book with McSweeney’s McMullens. I’m also working on a couple grown-up books. And an interactive family journal, part of an ongoing series I’ve been doing with Potter Style. And some new YouTube videos. And I’m about to launch two independent projects. One called “The Mending Machine” which is a collaboration with the phenomenal Lea Redmond of Leafcutters Design. The other called The Pantone Prose & Pictures Project. Both of those will launch in a couple weeks.
Thank you very much for inviting me to your nifty online niche.
Take a peek at some of the page spreads:
These two are related:
These two are related:
- Many thanks to Chronicle Books for sponsoring this giveaway. One lucky commenter (from the USA or Canada) will win a copy of I Scream! Ice Cream! A Book of Wordles by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Serge Bloch.
- To enter for a chance to win a copy please leave a comment on this post about my interview with Amy, independent writing projects, word play/vocabulary, or about how you’d use this book in your classroom.
- All comments left on or before Friday, May 17th, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. EDT will be entered into a random drawing using a random number generator the following day. I will announce the winners’ names at the bottom of this post no later than Sunday, May 19th.
- Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. From there, my contact at Chronicle will ship the book out to you. (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you only leave it in the e-mail field.)