Posted by: jeannineatkins | February 4, 2015

59 Reasons to Write by Kate Messner

59 Reasons to Write: Mini-Lessons, Prompts, and Inspiration for Teachers offers friendly suggestions about making time, breaking through fears, revising, forming writing groups, and everything in between, including prompts and suggestions for developing point of view, characterization, setting, and other the elements of writing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

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Kate Messner is the author of many books, from the fun Marty McGuire chapter books, the exciting Eye of the Storm, the poetic picture book Over and Under the Snow, and the newly released novel All the Answers, with most highlighting themes of strong people at home in nature. 59 Reasons to Write, like Real Revision, was published by Stenhouse and is intended for teachers who write and teach writing, but can be used by anyone with a pen or laptop looking for inspiration. When Kate stopped her full time job teaching English, she didn’t stop being a teacher. Not only does she visit lots of classrooms to talk about writing, but seeing a need for teachers who wanted some structure and company as they wrote, Kate enlisted other children’s writers to contribute to Teacher’s Write, an online community where teachers could use the prompts, suggestions, and feedback of published writers to focus on their own writing during the summer.

59 Reasons to Write expands on selected lessons and questions and answers, winding together themes. I was happy to join in as a writing mentor, and can say that despite the struggle that writing can sometimes be, it was fun to write and read together, to see the many varieties of responses to one simple suggestion. I haven’t yet read the book cover to cover, but loved seeing prompts from Jo Knowles and an example of using fiction as a writing model from Anne Marie Pace, who showed how she looked at the first chapter of Sarah, Plain and Tall for things such as how dialogue and description were balanced, and how the last page of the first chapter touched the first, then used some of this underlying structure as inspiration for her work in progress.

59 Reasons to Write is about the size of a speckled composition notebook, but without such a stiff binding, so it’s easy to flip from one soft page, and one idea, to another. Every writing book has its tone, and the warmth in this one comes both from Kate and the generous and hard-working people she gathers around. Readers will fold over pages or put down the book with a strong sense of yes-we-can, and perhaps even more than 59 Reasons to Write.

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