Slice of Life Story Challenge March 30 -Essential Connections Between Reading And Writing
Essential Connections Between Reading And Writing
I am currently preparing for a conference presentation I am scheduled to present in Melbourne in early May. The conference will focus on the power of reading.
I will be talking about the essential connection between reading and writing and how important it is for teachers to learn to read like writers. Acquiring this skill enables teachers to more readily identify suitable mentor texts for teaching aspects of both reading and writing.
Two strong quotes come readily to mind as I prepare:
‘The writer is careful what he/she reads, for that is what they’ll write.’ –careful of what they learn, for that is what they’ll know.’
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
‘Nobody but a reader ever became a writer.’
I have always held true to the belief that a highly visible reading and writing life is an essential part of being an effective teacher. Therefore, I must be what I teach -a writer and a reader. In that way the teachers and students I come to meet, learn from the very authors I have come to know and trust.
To strengthen those essential reading- writing connections for students, I frequently share books I am currently reading with young readers. They may include books I am currently reading, or books I have recently purchased and intend to read next. I provide a ‘tasting’ of the book; explaining why I chose that particular book, what it’s mainly about and what I’ve discovered or hope to discover during my reading.
I am mindful of the need to shine a light on how a particular text also influences my writing.
When I share my books, I remain mindful of sharing how these books feed and sustain my writing-reading life. It’s the model of a reader, I want them to see. They quickly come to view me as a person who connects my reading to my writing. The clear message is that they are interdependent aspects of my consciously literate life.
I want everyone to see my reading choices relate strongly to my work. My passion for reading will hopefully shine through. Our reading and writing lives should never be swathed in secrecy.
When students are taught how writing is constructed, huge possibilities open up to make their own writing more effective. For me, the key lies in learning to write from other writers. Teaching students to do this remains our instructional challenge. It an essential teaching goal, if we want our students to write well!
When studying the writing of others, we must focus on how the text is written, more than what it’s about. We are looking to see how the text is structured, how words and sentences are used, how certain genre related elements are developed. Katie Wood Ray's words come to mind when the idea of reading like a writer is being considered. What are you reading that is like what you are trying to write? It is a powerful question. We could also ask, 'What is this writer doing that you wish you could do? Reading and writing are like siblings, but there is no rivalry to be found in the relationship, only a strong bond.