Sunday, February 23, 2014

#10for10 Nonfiction Books for Kid Writers

I participated in the #pb10for10 (started by Mandy Robeck and Cathy Mere) in the past and had found so many picture books from other teachers that were new and inspiring to add to my own collection. Mine own post actually ended up being #pb11for11 as I was a day late.  You can see this list here.  So, I thought I'd gather up a list of nonfiction books that are must haves for our classrooms.

I remember the days roaming the library as a youngster in elementary school.  Not a “reader” yet that had learned the deliciousness of getting lost in a fictional tale, I sought out books that would teach me ways to create.  I craved to write, but there was not a lot of guidance out there to give me an idea on what writers do.  So, my the only writing consisted of my diary.  Thank goodness, we've come a long way since the 1970's!

Even though there are now writing books to inspire young writers, most of our classrooms do not house books of this fashion in our classroom independent library bins.  Perhaps we are not sure what is “kid-friendly” and what is strictly for adults.  Could it be that we can't find the right books?  

The market is flooded with writing books for kids, but many consist of imagine-you-are-invisible-type prompts or journal-entry writing ideas and do not really help young writers understand how to find real, authentic ideas to write about.  Real writers do not write from prompts. The last thing I'd want to write about is what it would be like to be stuck in a snow globe.  Ughh. . .  

Kids need strategies for writing in real life.

Well, here are 10 books that focus on writing for kids.  These are your students that already know they are writers and they want to be authors one day, and I'm thinking that if their passion for writing is real, they will teach themselves, with the help of a few books.  These are books for the writer themselves, to learn more about being a better writer.  

It's time we created a bin just for them.

1.  Spilling Ink:  A Young Writer's Handbook by Ellen Potter and Anne Mazer

Authors,  Ellen Potter and Anne Mazer, put together a perfect resource for those wanna-be writers, giving them inspiring advice that they wish THEY had when they were young.  Honestly, I think that if someone picked up this book to read and was not planning on writing, they probably will want to be before to get to the end!

Look At My Book is perfect for those writers that need step-by-step directions about how to create a story, giving kids some good strategies for ideas and then how to put it all together in a published book. As a "maker", I like the publishing component of this book.  It's very easy to to understand and follow.

Ralph Fletcher's books absolutely, positively, must be a part of a collection of books for kids on writing. I have a teacher friend that reads this book aloud to his class when beginning writer's notebooks in the classroom to help students understand what notebooks really are.  It helps them understand that they own their notebooks and how writers don't have special "writing skills", they just pay attention to the world. Fletcher's other books to add to the collection are How Writers Work, Live Writing, and  Poetry Matters.

4.  Dude Diaries by Micky Gill

The Dude Diaries series intrigues me.  These books are the kinds of books that one sneaks off the shelves and hides away with. They nudge the writer to put down your secrets.  As a young writer, being able to put down thoughts that I could not tell anyone else was liberating.  

These books will get filled up with writing.  A teacher could suggest to her class that anyone could add their writing to the Dude Diaries for others to read (audience acceptable content only - kids would need guidance on this). Talk to your class about the possibilities for these books.

5.  Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine

Newberry Honor author, Gail Levin, shares her secrets with kids on how she creates stories that kids love.  She give strategies for ideas, writing craft suggestions, and even offers advice for when you are stuck as a writer.

This book is for the young poets.  I've had fourth graders tell me they love and collect poems at home. Some tell me that poems come right out of them from nowhere!  Once kids fall in love with writing poetry, they crave to get better at it.  This book is filled with poems from wonderful authors, what poetry means to them and their advice to young poets.  If you are going to buy this book on Amazon, make sure you partner it up with Janeczko's other book about poetry, The Place My Words Are Looking For:  What Poets Say About and Through Their Work.

7.  Show, Don't Tell!:  Secrets of Writing by Josephine Nobisso and illustrated by Eva Montanari

This is a picture book that writers will sit with and admire the illustrative art work.  Throughout the book, advice to writers about how to "show and not tell" is woven in.  This craft is a tricky one for kids to understand, but once they do, they use it and their writing changes dramatically.  It's one of those hybrid genres as it's really a narrative and nonfiction combined.  Kids love teaching books with a story.

8.  Amelia's Notebooks by Marissa Moss

I don't think you could create a quality collection of books about writing for kids without including Amelia's Notebooks.  I, myself, sit with these and get lost in them.  And, it's impossible to NOT be inspired to write something in your own writer's notebook in Amelia style after spending some time with them.  This series just keeps growing, just as our own writer's notebook collections grow.  Again, not non-fiction, but, they need to be included.  Make sure you check out Marissa Moss' book, Max's Logbook, as well.

9.  How I Came To Be A Writer by Phyllis R. Naylor

Adding some biographies about authors and how they came to be writers is also important in adding this collection. Phyllis Naylor (author of Shiloh) has not written a how-to book, but instead a book that speaks of how hard it is to be a writer.  She writes about her challenges and how she did not give up on her dream to be an author.

10.  Once Upon A Slime by Andy Griffiths

Andy Griffiths writes a book filled with ideas for getting writing going along with telling about his own writing journey.  He has cool illustrations kids will love and snippets from his books.  He teaches other things writers do such as map-making, and even gives his writers quizzes to learn more about themselves.  He teaches how to write for many different audiences, meaning many types of kids.

Griffiths is rather humorous and for writers that like to write goofy things, this is the perfect writing book for them.

Hopefully, this list will inspire you to get started with a new bin for your wanna-be writers.  I know that I would have snuck these books home with me if I'd have had access to them as a young girl.

If you know of other books to add to this list, please share!!

Shari :-)


  1. I want this entire list for my daughter. She is such a passionate reader - it can't help but spill over into her writing. But wow, some great inspiration and thoughts for her included in this list. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Shari,
    I. Love. This. List. I had no idea there were so many books about writing. I can't wait to check them out.