Reading as a writer is tricky when you are such a story nut. I love story and fall deeply in love with most stories. I get lost in the images and the lives to the people so easily. I slip into their world and ride along on their adventure. It is a wonderful thing to do on a hot summers afternoon. But – the but is I was reading to understand the skills of writing. I was reading to learn to be a better writer and I got lost in the story once again.
I was reading The Aurora County All-Stars by Deborah Wiles (2007). This is the last of her three books in Aurora County. There is Love, Ruby Lavender and each Little Bird that Sings whose characters overlap and meet up in interesting ways in each of these books. Reading The Aurora County All-Stars was like visiting home after having lived away for awhile. All your friends and neighbors were there to share a new story with you.
This is a sweet little book about facing what you find hard to do and taking action. It is about standing up for the truth about yourself and the people you know. It is about a community coming together to learn about their history and about how important it is to work together. It includes interesting facts about baseball history and quotes from Walt Whitman. What more could you ask for? – summer, secrets, baseball, literature – oh and there is a dog! A very lovable dog named Eudora Welty. (Those names may be lost on your 3rd, 4th and 5th graders but what a wonderful way to make connections to writers they will hopefully read as they get older.)
As a teacher this would make a great read aloud at the beginning of the school year when no one is ready to let go of summer. It is a story of that one last summer baseball game with families, friends and those you don’t realize are really your friends as well.
As a writer and a teacher of writing Wiles writes in a clear easy way. You can follow her thinking and see how she builds her story. She is a master at laying in the details that give us time and place. Her characters are people you care about and are concerned for. Her first chapter is a hook to the secrets that people hold from their past and make you want to keep going – you want to know more.
This is a book I will re read since I got lost on the story and forgot I was suppose to be reading for craft. It would make a good mentor text to share with young writers or not so young writers like myself.
To be read list:
- I plan to return to Wiles books for author craft
- My big job is to tackle Dead Wake by Erik Larson for my adult book group
This week will be a step into narrative nonfiction and thinking about what narrative nonfiction books are available for students. The first one that pops into my head is Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson. What other nonfiction narratives can you add? Let’s start a list!