March 21 – Writers get better by reading

I often go to hear authors speak. Living outside of Washington, D.C., I easily attend the National Book Festival each fall allowing me to hear a different author speak each hour of the weekend celebration. I also check when authors visit bookstores and go listen. The one piece of advise I recall hearing is: If you want to get better at writing, SPEND TIME WRITING and SPEND TIME READING!

I’ve been writing for 20 days straight now (21 once I publish this post!). But I have also been reading so many short slices each day. Some give me ideas of topics I also might write about. Some give me ideas for craft moves I could try or genres I might write. (I really am doing to try to write a Currently Poem before March 31st). Some have made me laugh and some brought tears to my eyes.

I think about all this as I then go to write. Because of all the reading I am doing, I know now I am also spending more time revising as I write. Someone else is going to read this. What might I do to put a grin on their face? What might I do as I tell this touching part of my story to get them to feel it more? What genre would work best?

Because I have been READING so much as I write, I know my writing is getting better.

As a teacher, I just started teaching the Memoir Unit in 5th grade. I made sure to first have my students read a memoir together – Eleven by Sandra Cisneros and then I spent two more days having them read one more memoir within a group to present to the class. And I got 30 picture book memoir to have in the class for more reading. (If interested, I wrote and added pictures about this teaching HERE ).

I used to tell parents when they asked for ways to help their child: You get better at reading by reading and better at writing by writing.

Now I think I will say: You get better at reading and writing by spending lots of time reading and writing.

BOTH are needed which I am reminded of everyday during this Slice of Life Challenge.

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29 thoughts on “March 21 – Writers get better by reading

  1. Sonja says:

    Loved your post! YES!!! SOL challenge does many things for me, but the consistent reminder of the interconnectedness of reading and writing is at the top of the list for me. I love your point about going back to revise—because YES, someone is going to be reading this! thank you for a great post.

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  2. Sonja says:

    Loved your post! YES!!! SOL challenge does many things for me, but the consistent reminder of the interconnectedness of reading and writing is at the top of the list for me. I love your point about going back to revise—because YES, someone is going to be reading this! thank you for a great post.

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  3. Ms. Victor says:

    You have put into words what I have been thinking as this challenge has progressed. I am definitely getting more out of it than I thought I would! I want to live somewhere that gives me easy access to lots of authors!

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  4. Ms. Victor says:

    You have put into words what I have been thinking as this challenge has progressed. I am definitely getting more out of it than I thought I would! I want to live somewhere that gives me easy access to lots of authors!

    Like

  5. Morgan Davis says:

    So true! I like that you point out the topic AND the craft of your learning. It reminds me of Katie Wood Ray's questions of immersion and makes me wonder what we can infer about the work each write is doing. Hmmm. That will keep me thinking for a while.

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  6. Fran says:

    Sally,
    Words of Wisdom here!
    Writing brings new thought, care and appreciation of the reader. Reading brings more thought, care and appreciation of the writer! As teachers, we must do more of BOTH in order to walk in the shoes of our students!
    <3

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  7. Mary Ann Reilly says:

    I'm reminded here about the importance of both reading and writing–twin acts . I also followed your link to your post about PARCC over and your work as teacher beginning again via the memoir unit. I think these ideas (reading and teaching & what disrupts each) connect well.

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  8. elsie says:

    Yes, yes, yes! This is what happens when we write, we read. When we read, we see how we want to write. Why do teachers still think these are two separate subjects? Love your observations!

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  9. mvervinck says:

    I agree! Besides the things that you mentioned, I now think more about my audience when I write than I ever have before. There is something nice about knowing that you have written something that someone wants to comment about. Keep writing and reading!

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  10. Amanda Regan says:

    Everyone hears that reading and writing are interconnected, but I think it isn't until we as educators are immersed in both that we really understand that connection. I agree that the SOLSC offers a great learning experience.

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  11. Marcie R says:

    I live this slice!! You articulated so well whatnot is we get out of slicing. Experiencing the writing gives Ilya understanding as we are teachers of writing. Reading makes it all happen. I am going to reread this slice. I would live to know what picture books you used for memoirs!

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  12. Alan Wright says:

    Be careful, what you read for that is what you'll write. Annie Dillard's powerful reminder. Your reflective piece provides insight to your current thinking aorund the literacy siblings. The connections are essential to our reading and writing health. We cannot assume kids make this connection. We must assist them by making explicit mention of these links. You are living proof of this important practice.

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  13. Alan Wright says:

    Be careful, what you read for that is what you'll write. Annie Dillard's powerful reminder. Your reflective piece provides insight to your current thinking aorund the literacy siblings. The connections are essential to our reading and writing health. We cannot assume kids make this connection. We must assist them by making explicit mention of these links. You are living proof of this important practice.

    Like

  14. Kristi Lonheim says:

    Both are needed. We are doing a mini poetry unit in the couple of weeks before Spring Break. I always remember the line about having to read 100 poems before you can write one. We have been immersing ourselves in tubs and tubs of poetry. Next week we'll think about writing something. Reading And writing.

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  15. Sally says:

    WOW – you live in Malaysia! At least you have the internet which allows you to virtually meet authors. I follow lots on twitter! And I'll keep blogging when I meet them. I get a thrill knowing that someone across the globe read my words…another plus to this writing challenge. Thanks for reading!

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  16. Sally says:

    I often ask my students what might the author have done/lived in order to write this story. That inferring and looking at craft is so fun and leads to better writing!!

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  17. Sally says:

    WOW – you live in Ireland and went to TC. I am heading there next Saturday for their TCRWP Saturday Reunion! Thanks for reading and posting. I love knowing that people all over are reading and writing and making connections. I really like that phrase – twin acts!

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  18. Sally says:

    Your phrase – two separate subjects – has stuck with me. I teach 5th grade and we departmentalize and I have no idea WHAT the 5th graders are doing in reading…so sad. I need to remedy this. I can't just blog about it. I need to act on these ideas!

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  19. Sally says:

    I googled “Memoir picture books” and went to this site http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/memoir-picture-books
    and this site
    http://www.literacy-builders.com/teaching-literature/text-to-support-memoir
    while at the library and just walked the shelves and grabbed the books that were available. Technology really does make it easy to find the resources we need QUICKLY!

    Hey – I see you love all things TCRWP – me too! Will you be coming to the Sat Reunion next Sat? I will be taking the train up for just the day. I'll look for you!!

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  20. Sally says:

    Thank you for teaching me Annie Dillard's words! I also like your phrase – reading and writing health. Almost like a doctor, we need to give kids the right stuff to keep them healthy. Thanks for your kind comment. I loved clicking on your name and seeing you live in Australia! And a writer of a book on being a writing teacher! YOU are living proof, too!

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  21. Sally says:

    100 poems – 10,000 hours – So true that what we spend time doing, we can then DO! I'm excited for your poetry writing. After all that immersing, it will do great!

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  22. Malin Kerwin says:

    Sally, I share your feeling about reading and writing; they really are connected. Without a writer there woukd be no reader. Without a reader, the words on a page would be just that; words on a page. A reader gives life to the words we write.

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