Presentation on theme: "How has an author's work--novel, nonfiction, poetry--changed your view of the world or yourself? What did you learn about yourself that you didn't realize."— Presentation transcript:
How has an author's work--novel, nonfiction, poetry--changed your view of the world or yourself? What did you learn about yourself that you didn't realize before reading the author's work? Don't write a book report. The author already wrote the book and knows what happened. What the author doesn't know is how you reacted while reading the book. Write about that--your response in a reflective, personal letter to the author! That is the LAL writing challenge.
Letters About Literature Readers write a personal letter to an author, living or dead, from any genre-- fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, contemporary or classic--explaining how that author's work changed the student's way of thinking about the world or themselves.
But what is reflective writing and how do you do it?
Reflective writing is when an individual looks back at a past experience or period of time and thinks about the meaning and significance of that experience or time. Reflection is personal. It is insightful. Think of a mirror. When you look into a mirror, what do you see? Not just your own image but also the space around you and behind you. That's kind of what you do when you write a reflective letter to an author. The author's work - the book - is the mirror. The letter you write should capture the image in the mirror - a little bit about yourself and your world, how you saw yourself reflected in the book.
Here's the really interesting thing--no two readers quite see the same reflection in an author's work! Reflective writing is not a fan letter or a how-to- do process report. It is not a persuasive argument nor is it a literary analysis. Rather, reflective writing is personal. It is insightful. It is an expression of memories or emotions or your ideas. The author's work is the doorway (or perhaps the mirror) that allows the reader to discover these things about himself or herself.
STEP #1 IN THE REFLECTIVE WRITING PROCESS IS TALKING, not so much about what happened within the pages of the book but rather what happened inside each reader's head. The reader/writer has to think critically, to monitor personal reactions and thoughts and then express those ideas and feelings in a thoughtful and creative way.
Examples of Reflective Writing I would rather wash dishes than read a book outside of school.... When I read Tiger, the first book in The Five Ancestors Series, I suddenly got a knack for reading. Hello. My name is Jared. You made me who I am today. Prepare to be praised. (to the author of The Princess Bride, William Goldman) When I first read Eragon, I thought to myself, “Wow, this guy must have been writing forever to be this good!” Sometimes things happen in the world that make me think "What would George Orwell say about this?" I didn’t see the end coming because I didn’t check how many pages I had left. The future has always been a blur to me. Most people meet new friends outside. All you meet if you stay inside all day is a pair of glasses. When I read this book, I surprised myself by using a lot more parts of my brain than I usually do.
More Examples Skin. It’s the first thing people use to evaluate you in this world. What I saw in the mirror made me wonder... Do people treat me a certain way because of my skin color? What causes people to look at me in a strange manner? Am I different in some manner not explained? Or is it me? Just like Maleeka, I, too, questioned why my skin was the way it was. When I started reading your story, I really didn’t want to read it, because I knew Maleeka, in a way, was me. I didn’t want to read something that reminded me of myself. 8th grade student at St. Angela School, Chicago, IL, to Sharon Flake, author of The Skin I'm In I’ve been having problems like Shug with my best friend. She just seems like she’s growing up and I’m not. I like being a kid like Shug. to Jenny Han, author of Shug, from a letter written by Kate, Washington JHS, Naperville, IL I was baptized Roman Catholic. I do not believe animals rise to heaven or descend. I will never truly see my dog again, but through your novel, Cynthia, you have brought her back. Through the experiences in your book, treasured memories I had banished from my mind have arisen again. I welcome these now. Ryan from Naperville, IL, to Cynthia Kadohata, author of Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam
I’m an earth freak. I yell when people throw away paper. I tear up when I see things about sea animals getting killed by pollution and careless boaters. I cringe when I see forests being torn down so more buildings can be built; like there already aren’t enough. Sometimes I get teased about being so sensitive when it comes to being ‘green’ by the kids at school. My release at first was just to tell myself that they’re just cold-hearted and that I was the better person. But sometimes it was hard to convince myself of this. to Carl Hiaasen, author of Hoot, from 12-year-old Val My personality doesn’t match Lily’s, but my heart does. I am a junior high school Christian girl. It sometimes seems to be me that no one else is as close to religion as I am. I have lots of friends who go to church, but hardly any of them go EVERY Sunday. I also, like Lily, journal about the Bible. None of my friends do that. It was a relief for me to know that what I did wasn’t just something crazy and weird. Once I realized how close Lily and I were, I started making other connections between us. To Nancy Rue, author of the Lily series, written by 7th grader Julia
Synthesize, Don't Summarize! Writing a letter to an author may seem awkward. After all, the author knows nothing about you. You may at first be tempted to prove to the author that you read his or her book by summarizing what happened. But think about it. The author wrote the book. He or she already knows what the book is about. What the author doesn’t know is how the book affected you. The two passages below are from letters written to Daniel Keyes, author of Flowers for Algernon. The first passage tells the author what happens in the book. The second passage tells the author how the reader responded to what happened. Which passage do you think the author would find more interesting to read?
Passage A Two scientists discovered Charlie in a high school reading class. They decided he was an ideal candidate for a new operation they had been trying on a lab mouse they called Algernon. The operation had greatly improved the intelligence of the mouse and the scientists believed there was a good chance the operation would raise Charlie’s intelligence, too. Passage B In your book, Charlie works in a bakery with uneducated workers who show no sympathy for his condition. They laugh and snicker at Charlie. At times, I’ve been made fun of and it hurts to the point where I want to strike out. Charlie laughed with those who mocked him. He thought they were his friends. Unlike Charlie, however, I have the ability to realize the difference between good-natured teasing and mocking.
To summarize means to recall details. To synthesize, however, means to combine one or more ideas into one written presentation. In Passage B, the reader combines a detail about Charlie’s life with a detail about his own life. The result is a more interesting piece of writing, one the audience (in this case, the author) would find interesting but also informative. This is one key to good writing: Always keep the author in mind!
ACTIVITY Directions: Read each passage and determine if the writer is summarizing or synthesizing. For each passage that summarizes, suggest ways the author can weave reader-response details into the paragraph.
I was enraged when Scout’s teacher told her that she wasn’t allowed to read anymore. I felt this way because reading is so valuable to me, and it’s a way of escaping from my troubles. Reading is so important, and this part of your story showed me that. (to Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird)
Night is a true story. Elie Weisel and his family were split up and transported from the Jewish ghetto which had been their town to Aushwitz. He and his father fought for freedom and survival. (to Eli Weisel, Night)
I have never been to California, never seen the great golden valleys nor the verdant peach orchards or fields of burgeoning grapes. I have never moved from my small community, certainly never ridden across half the nation through cold rain and sweltering heat in an overloaded jalopy. I have never questioned the fact that there would be food, and plenty of it upon our table, and a house, all our own, above our heads. (to John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath)
Harry has strong ties to his family. He feels love and affection for them and always thinks about them. Harry is a boy with strength. He conquers all that comes his way. When the evil sorcerer Voldemort is mentioned, Harry shudders at his name. (to J.K. Rowling)