Finding the right book and a writing lesson

sols_6There are thousands of children’s books being written. Some are so powerful, the language just right, the images perfect and you know they will become classics and/or award winners. They amaze me and make me want to put my pencil away – well really my computer down and just quit writing my two small stories.

BUT here is why I keep working on my own writing – I was reading in some wonderful blog ( sorry to whomever – I would quote you if I could remember who you are) about Louise Borden.  She is an author I did not know. So I did a little looking – at her web site  (, at Amazon and finally to the public library.

I  discovered this wealth of books. She has about 24 books listed on her web site.  I ordered as many as I could from the library and began reading. They are not earth shakers, not amazing word studies, and not classics (sorry Louise) but they are keepers!

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Louise has taken the small moments that a young child experiences and reflects them back to elementary students. Her books are perfect as a conversation starter about a topic important to this age group.

A great example is her book  America is…  This small book would have been perfect this year when I was working so hard to explain to my students why we still say the Pledge of Allegiance each Monday morning. Several of my 5th graders did not see the purpose of this Monday morning ritual. They did not know the history and I did not have time to give the full story at that moment. This book would have been a great way to discuss this topic without a full history lesson. It is inclusive of all people in this nation of ours.

Louise reaches another small moment with The Day Eddie met the Author. This one is great for thinking about how authors connect to their readers.  It also would be great to read before an author visit. Louise has so many more books that I am continuing to explore as mentor text and conversation starters.


I am also exploring Louise as a writer. Her books are clear, share a small moment in time, provide room for the reader to think about a topic, and they connect with the reader.  They make the reader feel she is talking to them.  I continue to learn as a writer that all books are not classics, and may not have powerful words or metaphors but they must reach their readers in small ways.  Louise does this over and over again in her books.

It is these small lessons we need to keep in mind as writers.  I talk with my students about these all the time but some how forget about them when I look at my own writing.  I am over critical of my own work and do not step back to look and see what it does offer.

  • is the story clear
  • is there a “hook” to pull you in 
  •  is the topic focused – a small moment in time
  • will the reader see themselves in the text or connect in some way
  • does it help the reader think about this topic, provide something to talk about

Thanks Louise for providing me with a writing lesson to start my summer writing and also with a new set of books to share with teachers and students next fall.  I think I can do this thing I have been pushing my students to do all school year.

Happy Summer writing!

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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2 Responses to Finding the right book and a writing lesson

  1. elsie says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I will have to check out Louise Borden too. Katie Wood Ray says kids need to see examples of the type of writing you want them to produce. Sounds like she may be a great match for those small moment stories.

  2. Linda Baie says:

    Thanks for telling about this author and her books. I love the ideas you shared also-so right to show examples of what “might be”. I bookmarked the books!

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