Guest Post by Dawn Little

Literacy Toolbox Review: Your Child’s Writing Life: How to Inspire Confidence, Creativity, and Skill at Every Age

Pam Allyn’s Best Book for Boys was published in May and now her latest, Your Child’s Writing Life (Penguin, 2011) is out.  Her boys book was written for educators, but I found a lot of value in it as a parent (see my review here).  Her current book is written for parents, and as far as I know is the first of its kind.  This resource will guide any parent who wants to help their children with writing.

About the Book: Allyn, a parent and an educator, has a knack for providing ideas that are easy to implement immediately.   Anecdotal stories are interspersed throughout the book showing how writing is influential and instrumental in the lives of children.  After explaining why parents should cherish their child’s writing life (consider framing favorite pieces of writing!), she provides five pillars that will encourage our children to flourish as writers: stamina, creativity, organization, fluency, and phonemic awareness.  Empowering parents to provide children with the gift of these skills is her goal and she goes into detail on each pillar to help empower parents.  She also provides five keys that spell out the acronym WRITE: word power, reading life, identity, time, and environment.  These five keys are meant to set the stage for forever writers.  If children are able to access these five keys, they will forever have a writing life.

After providing a foundation for parents, in a very practical, easy to read way; Allyn moves on to ten stages of writing development.  Just as children go through developmental stages of reading, children developmentally go through stages of writing as well.  Allyn briefly describes each stage and then takes readers from ages birth through 12, explaining writing elements you might see, writing activities, and great books for each age.  Allyn also provides parents with tips to help parents when their children are struggling with writing and nine ways to compliment a child’s writing.  Additionally, she provides twenty mentor texts – great texts that can inspire writing and fifty activities and ideas for writing including making a Facebook page for a character and writing a story with sidewalk chalk.

My Take: “All of our children can be ready, enthusiastic writers throughout their lifetime.  We are our children’s biggest influences and can be their most steadfast supporters.” This quote, taken from the Introduction affirms my belief that as parents we are our children’s first teacher.  This resource helps guide us as we work with our children in writing.  There are a lot of resources out there to help us with our children with reading, but few if any to help us with writing.  This book is chock full of information to guide parents as they help their children become writers.  Starting with theory and moving into practical ideas, Allyn provides a plethora of information that parents can use to inspire writing beginning at birth!  I love her easy-going style and sampling of ideas that I, or any parent, can easily integrate into a day, weekend or over summer vacation.  This is a resource that I will return to again and again, as I search for ways to encourage and inspire my children’s writing life.

About the Author: Pam Allyn is the Executive Director of LitWorld. She is also the Executive Director of LitLife, a nationwide education professional development consultancy.  Pam has written several books for teachers including the curriculum development guide entitled "The Complete 4 for Literacy" (Scholastic 2007) and one for parents, caregivers and educators entitled "What to Read When" (Penguin 2009).

Disclosure:  I received a net galley copy of the book from the publisher.

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.