{teaching writing through literature} #2

write-celebrate story title Spiral bound & snagged.  Worn out. Crinkled. Botched & battered too.  Those would be words I would use not just to describe the lifetime library of my kiddo's journals you see above. These words are equally as worthy and quite indicative of one who presses letters.  For a writer is an artist in word form.  One who illustrates the girth of human's heart through story. And one who captures feelings in big whooping nets as they flop out of the water from the page.  Caught, they change you.  Words in, so many times, inspire actions out.  Teaching writing is almost healing to our big ole world.

My boys' journals.  I've kept them.  Every last one.  They sit inside an old milk crate in our kitchen.  And they do anything but collect dust.  For these spiraled honoraries of past are proof that story moves.  Countless are the times I have watched these journals come alive. Scattered about the cherry hardwood with lanky legs in the air, my boys lie on their bellies and share. Giggles & crooked head studies. The reminisce.  "Mom, look!  I couldn't spell puppy." or "Awe, man.  I remember drawing that train with you."  Scribbles of God and Jesus with a backward "J" over & again.  Crayons for pencils.  Big fat stick people.  Stories of moving and some just telling the time as it passes.  To-dos and wish lists too.  Their life written.  I treasure the time they sit remembering who they are a little more from these tattered bound pages.  Yes, words are worth it.

Last week I began a series about teaching writing through literature.  It's a set of installments I want to document.  Not for a rushed popularity in the teaching community.  Nah.  Teachers are brilliant when it comes to creativity & planning; they don't need me. I have chosen to spend time in this series for the sake of story.  In what it gifts us when we take the time to celebrate those out there worn out & crinkled but pressing letters for the better it will leave in this big ole world.

book with equiptment

I have decided to take my time with these installments. For I want it to serve you, and I want it to serve me.  And I think that's really what story really is.  Relaying emotions & energy through content & form.  Best served for the artist and the observer just the same.  Russell Hoban and Ian Andrew collaborated magnificence in this book.  It is my hope to remind us all that less is most certainly more when we take the time to seek quality and rest with it for awhile.

look fors

I mentioned my process for teaching writing through literature last week in installment #1.  I savor my time reading the purity and transparent beauty found in children's literature.  I absolutely love investing in the connections good authors & illustrators create to springboard child life to adult living. The lessons are rich in good content.  The above key elements are what I gathered from my read through research of Jim's Lion.

big categories

If you'll remember, I decided to simply print these key elements in a bit more specific topics along with the examples from the story all onto stripes of paper.  After reading the story with the boys, they worked through the strips to sort and categorize each key element with its actual story examples.

illustrations list

It is here where I want to stop.  And I want to high five this Ian Andrew for the champ that he is.  Oh, please do not miss the story for just the words.  As much as I am an advocate of the letters pressed and the power they possess, I am just as equally passionate for the flakes of color and the intentional shades of story found in the illustrations.  Children connect so clearly to the illustrator.  It's how they first begin to read.  Through pictures.  Lest we forget the knowledge found in a powerful image.

The boys quickly found the key elements we noted from Ian Andrew's illustrations.  Above you will see them listed.


Stare.  Sink into the image there on the page.  We spoke of the emotions we felt as we were reading and then associated them with Andrew's use of color in his images.  The emotions are so evident in the hues.


Enamored.  That would be the word I used to describe the intricate details of this rock cupped within the boy's hands.  I love that Eli said, "Mom, his fingernails look like mine.  I bite mine because I get nervous. I bet he is nervous too."  Oh, if you only knew the how healing that association was for my son with regards to the worry in this little boy's story.

larger iamges

Casey said, "Mama, it's like I can almost pet him."  Yes, sweet boy.  Comfort & safety comes so very much from the lion in this story.

perspective 1

perspective pic

Humans.  We see things differently.  It's important for kiddos to know this.  Adults too.  Thank you, Mr. Andrew.

transparent layers

The lion is in us all.  Some find Him sooner than others.  Some rely on Him easier than others do too.  He exists and yet, physically, He is hard to find. Transparency: the opening of our hearts. Layers.  Because we all have to work though what is in us before we can stroke His mane.  Comfort & safety for us all. 

My time.  Investing in my boys.  My time.  Sharing with them the beauty & healing found inside pages with words and pictures.  Is worth it.  It's the way life is taught.  Little by little. Subtly noted. Soaked in. Changed.  Moved to fish a bit more for the flopping, grab your nets, boys. This big ole world needs to be fed.

pictures title