Updated: Jan 4
Teachers and early childhood educators who have recently bought our Willow the Wonderer picture books are telling us they love using it in class! Encouraged by their feedback we are developing a series of teaching guides to accompany the books. These will cover the basics like developing literacy and numeracy skills to more advanced subjects such as creative writing, art, folk literature, poetic rhythm and meter, and of course explore the philosophy and wisdom of happiness. This guide focuses on using the book to explore creative writing. Hope these make our educators lives easier and is a resource that parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles find useful as well!
Using Willow the Wonderer to Explore Creative Writing
We produced Willow the Wonderer with three to eight year old children in minds, as a fun and engaging read for children who are developing literacy and numeracy skills. However, the book can also be used as a case study to teach more advanced subjects like creative writing to older children who are beginning to learn to write their own stories, essays or compositions.
Use Willow the Wonderer to examine the creative writing process, including what inspires a story and the explicit creative choices writers make in telling it.
How to approach teaching:
Read the book with students in class
Facilitate a lively discussion around the motivations and choices made by the writer - using questions outlined below as thought starters
I have deliberately avoided giving "answers" to these questions as the point really is to explore the possibilities and think about the choices one would have made themselves, had they been holding the pen
A few additional resources have been provided where I (as the writer) have shared some thoughts around influences and creative choices that went into the book - you can use these to guide and provoke discussion rather than as absolute answers
Why tell this story at all? What do you think was the motivation or inspiration for the writer to pick up the pen and write this particular story?
Willow the Wonderer is a tale about the search for happiness and is recommended for 3–8-year-olds. Is this an ‘age-appropriate’ topic or subject? Does it matter?
Why tell the story using a donkey? It deals with human themes/issues so why not use an human protagonist/character?
Why write in verse? Couldn’t the nuances of this vast subject be more thoroughly explored in prose?
What’s with the counting? Why do you think the writer incorporated that in? Does it fit?
If you had to write a story around the theme of search for happiness for 3- to 8-year-olds, how would you write it? (Can set this as their homework 😉)
Here are some blogs I wrote that talks to the different influences, motivations and creative choices that going into my writing that could help inform the discussion above. If using these, don’t hesitate to critically examine the rationale I’ve provided – just because the writer thinks in a particular way does not necessarily make it the only way …
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