Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pam Allyn and her Your Child's Writing Life - Review and Interview

Author: Pam Allyn

Sub-Title: How to Inspire Confidence, Creativity, and Skill at Every Age
Release date: 2nd of August 2011
Published by: Penguin Group (USA)
Imprint: Avery
Reading level: NONFICTION - ADULT: Education & Study Aids: Education
Pages: 240 in Paperback
Source: Netgalley.com through Pastaqueenpr.com for reviewing

Summary of the book from Goodreads:

Your Child's Writing Life: How to Inspire Confidence, Creativity, and Skill at Every AgeNew educational research reveals that writing is as fundamental to a child's development as reading. But though there are books that promote literacy, no book guides parents in helping their child cultivate a love of writing. In this book, Pam Allyn, a nationally recognized educator and literacy expert, reminds us that writing is not only a key skill but also an essential part of self-discovery and critical to success later in life. Allyn offers the "the five keys" to help kids WRITE-Word Power, Ritual, Independence, Time, and Environment-along with fun, imaginative prompts to inspire and empower children to put their thoughts on the page.


A groundbreaking blueprint for developing every child's abilities, Your Child's Writing Life teaches parents how to give a gift that will last a lifetime.

My review:

Since I have a 4-years old son, I was excited start reading Your Child’s Writing Life and hoped that it would be useful reading and that I could learn a lot.

It was an interesting and educating book to read. I read this book as being a parent myself and I did not have to be disappointed. Your Child’s Writing Life was written professionally and it was easy to read, so it is understandable to parents with different educational backgrounds. The point of the book and the idea behind it was clear: Reading is like breathing in, writing is like breathing out. Both of them are very important to survive for human beings and the better you are to read and especially write, the easier it is to excellent yourself in the future.

I definitely got some tips and trick how to make writing fun for kids. My own son loves books and me reading to him, but writing is something he still needs to learn and Pam Allyn’s book was helpful for me.

What was most useful for me as a parent was that Pam Allyn described so many different ways how to involve writing into your child’s everyday life, so it could be inspiring, fun and educational. When I learned how to write it was simply a question of sitting behind the desk and trying hardly to get the letters straight, but Pam Allyn also includes the modern technology and usage of it into the teaching. She also gives handful ideas of how to create right and playful environment for both children and parents so it wouldn’t be boring.

I recommend this book to everybody who has children! It is enlightening and gives you a lot of ideas and energy to support and help your kids while they learn how to write and what to write.

5 stars of 5.

Content of the book:

Title Page
Copyright Page
Dedication
Acknowledgements
Epigraph
Introduction
One - New Dimensions for Parenting: Cherishing Your Child’s Writing Life
Two - The Five Keys: Setting the Stage for Forever Writers
Three - The Writer’s Ladder: Cultivating Your Child’s Writing Life at Every Age
Four - The Writing Doctor Is in the House: Solving the Problems of Tears, Frustration and Resistance When It’s Time To Write
Five - Grand Mentors: Twenty Great Books to Inspire Great Writing
Six - What to Write When: Fifty Remedies to Cure Writer’s Block
Closing Thoughts:
Index

Interview with author of the Your Child’s Writing Life - Pam Allyn

First section of the interview is about Pam Allyn, second section is about Pam's book(s) and third part is for fun and about her favorites.


Part I


IS: Please describe yourself with few sentences. Who are you?


PA: I am a mother, wife, daughter, friend, teacher, learner. I also love to write and have written many books. My passions are just two: the rights of all children to a safe and healthy life, and my love for their stories.

IS: What inspired you to start writing books?

PA: I have loved the power of the written word for as long as I can remember. Writers have given me many gifts. I think I was inspired from the time I heard my parents read aloud to me. And when I was in elementary school, and read and reread books such as Anne of Green Gables and Little Women, I found girl heroes with that same passion too. As an adult, I recognized that the best way for me to advocate for children was to write about it. Writing things down makes an idea grow and spread.

IS: Who did you want to become when you were a kid? What did you dream about?


PA: I loved Jo in Little Women, and Anne in Anne of Green Gables. I wanted to be feisty like them, and make up stories and have big dreams. I loved my grandmothers, both of whom were teachers. It was always considered a very noble profession in my family. But my secret dream was to be a jockey! I also loved books about horses, and I imagined myself soaring down the racetrack, winning the Triple Crown!

IS: What was the first book you read and first story you wrote? Do you have any memories of that?


PA: I remember my mother reading Blueberries for Sal to me. I loved that book and the way she read it. I don't recall the first book I read myself, but I do know I spent my entire childhood on one spot on the couch reading. I vividly recall the first story I wrote. I was in third grade and my beloved teacher Mrs. Kovacs praised me for "admiring" the author Anna Sewell. In actuality, I had written my first "novel" entitled "Thunder: A Horse" which was a complete plagiarism of Black Beauty! I am forevermore grateful to my dear teacher that she understood how my love for that writing led me to a thinly veiled carbon copy of it! But how I loved that first story! I was so proud of it!

IS: When and how did the idea of writing your first book formed?


PA: I was very lucky I met my Scholastic editor Lois Bridges and she said: "You have some big good ideas and they need to get out there." I am blessed by wonderful editors who nurture my work in these ways. But the idea of "The Complete 4" came from many discussions around my dining room table with my awesome team of colleagues. We were very excited by the idea and I knew that day that it would have to be shared.

IS: What do you do when you are not working? Do you have any hobbies?


PA: HA! That is funny! I love, love, love two things: my family and work. So my hobbies are all about them. I love to sit around chatting it up with our daughters and my husband and parents. I love to read, and I will read anything and everything. I hope I get to keep working forever, because I don't see myself playing golf!

IS: What is the most difficult aspect of being a writer for you?


PA: It can be pretty lonely sometimes. Even with a million people around me, I know I have to go back to the blank screen by myself.

IS: If you wouldn’t be an educator, who would you be and what would you do?


PA: I guess I'd still love to be a jockey!

IS: Would you tell my readers about LitWorld and LitLife? What do these organizations deal with?


PA: I founded LitWorld to advocate for the right of every child to learn to read and write. We use the power of the child's own story to teach, and we cultivate literacy leaders worldwide through our own innovative LitClub model. I also founded World Read Aloud Day which brings people together to celebrate the power of the read aloud and to advocate for all children to have that in their lives.

LitLife is a professional development organization specializing in the teaching of reading and writing. My team consults in schools, coaching, leading workshops, and providing resources for transformational school reform.

Part II

Let’s talk about your book Your Child’s Writing Life and other books what have been published previously. I really enjoyed reading your book and the first questions are about Your Child’s Writing Life.

IS: Why did you feel that there was a need for writing Your Child’s Writing Life?


PA: Parents and caregivers are notably anxious about how to support children at home as writers. I wanted to alleviate that anxiety with concrete and practical ways for parents to engage their children as writers from the youngest age. Most importantly, I want to be sure every child has the opportunity to write throughout his or her childhood, in ways that are joyful and meaningful to him or her as well as to the whole family. I also feel in the 21st century there has never been a more important time to teach our children how to love writing and do it well. It is the communication mechanism that will give them superpowers in life.

IS: I have a 4 year old son at home and he likes reading (me reading to him) and books, but writing is not something he is very eager to try. What are the most common mistakes parents are doing when teaching kids to read and write? What can parents do to encourage writing?


PA: The most common mistake is that we are overly critical. You don't have to be your child's teacher. Be his mentor, his guide, his coach, his beloved role model. Don't look for errors. Find what you love in his writing and say one affirmational thing every time. This will go a long way. Also, write with your child. Try all the activities together. Take time to create a writing corner for your child. Read wonderful books together and use these authors as mentors for your child as writer. Make writing fun!

IS: Why is writing so important according to your understanding?


PA: Writing builds confidence in a child’s sense of herself and an awareness that her voice matters. It helps her create and strengthen her identity through reflection.Writing fosters a child’s emotional growth and gives her coping skills for dealing with life’s many highs and lows. Writing helps your child develop critical thinking skills - it helps her understand and communicate complicated ideas. Strong writing skills guarantee improvement in academic achievement.

IS: Many children learn to type and play on PCs before they learn to write with the pen on paper, at least the trend is toward this. Do you think the teaching how to write is also changing due to new tools and technology children are using nowadays?

PA: Absolutely! I love it all. Children must learn to write in clear, sharp and immediate ways to be part of this 21st century moment. We cannot just teach them the five paragraph essay. A well crafted Facebook status message has impact too.

IS: If you should describe with few words why should parents buy and read your book?


PA: If they want their children to embrace a writing life both at home and in school, I hope they will buy this book. If they want to achieve a really strong relationship with their children using writing as a powerful tool for communication, comfort and inspiration, they should read my book! If they want practical suggestions for how to make that happen, my book is chock full of writing ideas and strategies for getting kids beyond the blank screen or page.

Let’s talk about your other books, too.

IS: You have published several books about reading and writing. Would you be so kind and tell my readers about your other books that have been published and what are these about?

PA:
a. Pam Allyn's Best Books For Boys (Scholastic) - for teachers and parents, on what's wrong with how we are engaging boys as readers and how we can change that; as well as an annotated suggested list of really great reads

b. The Great Eight: Management Strategies for the Reading and Writing Classroom (Scholastic) - for teachers, chock full of photos and resources, on how to make sure your kids get back and forth to the rug, recess and learning!

c. What to Read When: The Books and Stories to Read with Your Child—And All the Best Times to Read Them (Penguin/Avery) - for parents and teachers, why the read aloud is the best vitamin ever for lifelong learning, and an annotated list of my favorites

d. The Complete 4 for Literacy: How to Teach Reading and Writing Through Daily Lessons, Monthly Units, and Yearlong Calendars (Scholastic) - a book that describes our big idea about how to organize the teaching of reading and writing

e. The Complete Year in Reading and Writing (Grades K through 5), coauthored (Scholastic) - lots of fantabulous lessons and book suggestions for teachers

IS: If you should pick one more of your books which I as a parent should read, which one would it be and why?


PA: Well, I do love them all! But for parents, my newest book is so exciting to me, I want you all to read it right away! And it's timely, because our children are going to be successful in this new era if they master writing.

IS: I must ask you about new book projects that you are working on currently. What will your next book be about? Anything you can tell us already?


PA: I'm pondering one about the new Common Core State Standards. But also I want to write one about my travels for LitWorld, both here and away. I love the children and community members worldwide I've met. I'd love to share those stories.
We are also considering a set of books from LitWorld that would be geared towards teachers.

Stay tuned!

Part III – Favorites

Since many of my readers are either book bloggers or authors, then I have some questions about books and your other favorites, too.

Who is your favorite author?
E.B. White is the best author ever. He once was asked: "Why do you write for children?" He said: "I don't write for children. They are just smart audiences." I fully agree! And his writing is just purely perfect, in every single way, from the big ideas to the tiniest comma.

What is your favorite book or series?
Harry Potter! I was so overjoyed my own daughters got to see the birth of a classic.

What book was your favorite summer read this summer?
It's called "A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights". It tells the story of how she helped shape the seminal document of the global world (in my humble opinion). She is my hero.

What is your favorite song?
Kind and Generous by Natalie Merchant because it makes me cry every time.

What is your favorite season?
I love fall, because it reminds me of back to school and it's crisp and clear and smells like apples.

What is your favorite food?
My Aunt Rita's cake.

What is your favorite car?
I don't care at all; but I love to crank the music LOUD!

What is your favorite color?
To wear: black, always black!
To look at: the blue of one daughter's eyes, and the grey green brown of the other's.

What is your favorite movie?
Philadelphia Story, because no one rocks it like Katharine Hepburn.
(And you didn't ask about tv, but since I'm a rabid fan of Friday Night Lights, I'll give that a shout out here!)

What is your favorite time of the day?
Early morning, when I get a lot of work done!

What is your favorite weather?
The perfect weather in Nairobi, where I do my LitWorld work; it's always temperate and perfect in every way.

 
Thank you so much, Pam, for taking your time answering all my questions!

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