By Abby Hanlon, The Children’s Book Review
Published: October 10, 2012
Ralph Tells A Story is about a little boy who feels pressure in the classroom. Ralph notices that everyone around him is busy writing, and he feels incapable. But ultimately, his desire to communicate overpowers his fears. Learning to write is empowering.
When I was a teacher, I loved teaching writing with the workshop model because it allowed children to work on their own level, and I could celebrate a child’s individual achievements. But I also noticed the pressure that kids felt during writing time. I noticed as they compared their abilities to others. The variation in writing skills across a class of five- and six-year-olds can be vast. While I had some students who struggled to put a single letter on the page, another kid might have been writing the prologue to his chapter book.
In Ralph Tells A Story, I tried to capture this disparity in the relationship between Daisy and Ralph. While Ralph is staring at his blank paper in front of him, Daisy can’t stop finding things to write about, and, ironically, one of her great inspirations is Ralph. As Ralph is lusting over the stapler as a fun distraction from the task at hand, Daisy is busy stapling her thirteen-page book together, only adding to Ralph’s anxiety. Eventually, however, it is Daisy who comes to Ralph’s rescue and aids in his transformation. I watched children go through a big transformation many times in my classroom.
A Writing Tip
When my son was four years old, he asked me, “Why are grown ups so bad at reading?” I said, “What do you mean by that?” He replied, “They can never read what I write!” Of course, this was because his writing consisted of giant letters, formed all kinds of ways, written from the bottom to the top of the page. But I was very pleased with his analysis. He was writing to communicate, and he was not questioning his emergent skills. Confidence is the most important thing we can give our kids as they embark on these early efforts.
For more writing tips, visit the next stop on Abby Hanlon’s blog tour: Adventures in Mommydom
About the Author
Abby Hanlon has a master’s degree in early childhood education from the City College of New York and bachelor’s from Barnard College, Columbia University. Abby has taught creative writing and first grade in the New York City public school system. Inspired by her students’ storytelling and drawings, Abby began to write her own stories for children. Determined to illustrate her stories, Abby taught herself to draw after not having drawn since childhood.Ralph Tells a Story is her first book. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and their two children. To learn more, visit her website: http://www.abbyhanlon.com/Add this book to your collection: Ralph Tells a Story
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