When I was in the first grade I wrote my first picture book. It was called The Squirrel that Tried to Blow Up the World. I still really like my book . However reading a chapter in Are You Ready: Nurturing Writers in Preschool and Kindergarten, by Katie Wood Ray and Matt Glover I started to think about the process I was using while writing the book, and certain opportunities I wish I would have known back then.
My teacher's instructions for writing our books was to think of a story, write it, and give it illustrations. This is not by any means bad instruction, but I think I would have liked it to be elaborated more. To get the most out of creating a book, the teacher should encourage the students to go through a similar process that real writers do. There should be a brainstorming phase where a child thinks about different and important ideas for the story. This could help those ideas stay focused. Also by having some time to brainstorm, the students might choose exactly what they want to writ about. For example, I really like the story that I came up with, however that thought came by at the spur of the moment and I wrote the book fast. If I had more time, even at 7 years old, I think I could have done more to the story.
Also words and illustrations should change from page to page but stay focused. Looking back at my book, it was funny to see my main character change appearance page by page. These aren’t bad mistakes for a 7 year old, but if the importance of it was stressed earlier, I might have done better on continuity.
Lastly I do remember my teacher letting our ideas come solely from us. While we told our story, the teachers typed down our story word for word. Sometimes teachers feel like they need to interject their opinions into their children’s work. While teachers should give important instruction before they allow their students write, the material should come from the students because this will help them build comprehension when it comes to writing and children do come up with very good ideas. In Negotiating Critical Literacies with Young Children, by Vivian Vasquez, a class thought hard and came up with a good idea. They wanted change so they first thought a survey was a good idea. After thinking a little more, they decided to do a petition. While a teacher could have easily suggested a petition up front, by coming up with this idea themselves the children got a sense of pride and comprehending experience.
These two articles have helped me realize that teachers are here to give children opportunities and resources that their minds can use to come up with great ideas.