Saturday, August 13, 2016

Writer's Loft Handout: Got Motivation?

You’ve probably heard that the secret to completing a manuscript is as easy as BIC—Butt in Chair. But with such busy lives, it can be hard to find the time and, more importantly, the motivation to stick to the writing goals you set for yourself. How can you make writing a top priority day after day, week after week, month after month—until your manuscript is finally done?

Here are some tips and tools to stay motivated as you pursue a writing life.
 
Know the Why: If you aren’t clear on why you’re doing something, it’s easy to give up. Take the time to figure out why you’re doing what you’re doing and how it benefits you, your family, and your community.
 
Motivation has three main components:
 
1. Focusing on your BIG dream.

2. Setting goals.

3. Staying positive.
 
What is your BIG dream? Write it down. Create a vision of what you want your life to be. A vision board can help.
 
Rehearse your BIG dream. Daydream as you drift off to sleep, while in the shower, while walking the dog, etc.
 
Set 4-5 goals per year. They should be specific, achievable, and measurable. Write them down in the following format: By ____ (date), I will ______.
 
Think of your goals as an action plan.
 
Stay the course. Every time someone asks you to do something or you have an opportunity, ask yourself: Does this serve one of my goals? Does this serve my BIG dream?
 
Find a friend to help you stay accountable. A buddy can:
Help you set deadlines
Act as a sounding board
Highlight your blind spots
Be a cheerleader
Celebrate successes
 
To stay positive:
Surround yourself with upbeat, constructive people.
Focus on what you can control.
Commit to improving your mindset.
Go forth and contribute. You can make it happen.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

MTA Handout: The Nonfiction Triumvirate

Nonfiction Categories

Life Story
The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman

Brave Girl by Michelle Markle

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Coyote Moon by Maria Gianferrari

El Deafo by Cece Bell

The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

Lives of the Presidents (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull

A Mother’s Journey by Sandra Markle

Separate Is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatium

The Right Word by Jen Bryant

Survey Book
Eyewitness Books

The Horrible, Miserable Middle Ages by Kathy Allen

Lightning by Seymour Simon

National Geographic Readers

Spiders by Nic Bishop

Why’d They Wear That? by Sarah Albee


Specialized Nonfiction
Chasing Cheetahs by Sy Montgomery

Handle with Care by Loree Griffin Burns

Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart

Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story by Tom Yezerski 

Sniffer Dogs by Nancy Castaldo

Sugar Changed the World by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos

The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin
 

Concept Book
Actual Size by Steve Jenkins

Just a Second by Steve Jenkins
 
Lifetime by Lola Schaefer
 
Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature by Sarah C. Campbell
 
No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart
 
A Place for Butterflies by Melissa Stewart
 
Seeing Symmetry by Loreen Leedy
 
A Star in My Orange by Dana Meachen Rau
 
Trout Are Made of Trees by April Pulley Sayre
 
-------------------------------------------------------------
Writing Styles
Expository
Facts Plus
A Black Hole Is Not a Hole by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano
 
Born to Be Giants: How Baby Dinosaurs Grew to Rule the World by Lita Judge
 
Bugged: How Insects Changed History by Sarah Albee
 
Eye to Eye by Steve Jenkins
 
Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart
 
Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies
 
Fast Facts
Animal Grossapedia by Melissa Stewart
 
Eyewitness Books
 
Guinness Book of World Records
 
Time for Kids Big Book of Why

 
Narrative
Ballet for Martha by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
 
Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
 
Buried Alive by Elaine Scott
 
The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton
 
The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming
 
Red-Eyed Tree Frog by Joy Cowley
 
Redwoods by Jason Chin (due to the art)
 
Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre
 
When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan
 
-------------------------------------------------------------
Common Text Structures
Description/Explanation  
A Black Hole Is Not a Hole by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano
 
The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins
 
Creep and Flutter by Jim Arnosky

Dolphins! by Melissa Stewart
 
Frogs by Nic Bishop
 
Lightship by Brian Floca
 
Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies
 
Sequence
Chronological narrative
Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet
 
The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman

Buried Alive by Elaine Scott
 
The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton
 
Marvelous Mattie by Emily Arnold McCully
 
Noah Webster & His Words by Jeri Chase Ferris
 
Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai by Claire A. Nivola
 
Pop: The Invention of Bubble Gum by Megan McCarthy
 
The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass
 
What to Do About Alice? by Barbara Kerley 
 
Episodic narrative
Ballet for Martha by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
 
Brave Girl by Michelle Markel
 
When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan
 

Braided narrative
Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming
Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
 
The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming
 
Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson
 
We’ve Got a Job by Cynthia Levinson
 
Journey narrative
If Stones Could Speak by Marc Aronson
 
Lost Treasure of the Inca by Peter Lourie
 
Quest for the Tree Kangaroo by Sy Montgomery
 
Saving the Ghost of the Mountain by Sy Montgomery
 
 
Cycle narrative
A Drop of Water by Gordon Morrison
 
Frog in a Bog by John Himmelman
 
Red-Eyed Tree Frog by Joy Cowley
 
Redwoods by Jason Chin (due to the art)
 
Beneath the Sun by Melissa Stewart
 
Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre
 
 
Chronological expository
Bugged: How Insects Changed History by Sarah Albee
 
Poop Happened!: A History of the World from the Bottom Up by Sarah Albee
 
Why'd They Wear That?: Fashion as the Mirror of History by Sarah Albee
 
 
Cumulative expository
Here Is the Tropical Rain Forest by Madeleine Dunphy
 
No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart
 
Older Than the Stars by Karen C. Fox
 
 

How-to expository
Dessert Designers: Creations You Can Make and Eat by Dana Meachen Rau
 
How to Swallow a Pig by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
 
The Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes by Doug Stillinger
 
Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes by Josie Fison and Felicity Dahl
 
Try This! 50 Fun Experiments for the Mad Scientist in You by Karen Romano Young
 
 
Compare & Contrast
Dueling spreads
Frog or Toad? How Do You Know? by Melissa Stewart
 
Mosquito Bite by Alexandra Siy
 
Neo Leo by Gene Barretta
 
Those Rebels, Tom & John by Barbara Kerley
 
 
List book
Born in the Wild by Lita Judge
 
Born to Be Giants: How Baby Dinosaurs Grew to Rule the World by Lita Judge
 
Eye to Eye by Steve Jenkins
 
Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart
 
Move by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
 
My First Day by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
 
Just One Bite by Lola Schaefer



Cause & Effect
Earth: Feeling the Heat by Brenda Z. Guiberson

Frog in a Bog by John Himmelman

A Place for Butterflies by Melissa Stewart

When Rain Falls by Melissa Stewart

Problem—Solution
The Great Monkey Rescue by Sandra Markle   
 
A Place for Butterflies by Melissa Stewart

Mesmerized  by Mara Rockliff

Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs by Michaela Muntean

Q & A Books
Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons by Sarah Levine

Good Question series (Sterling)

Creature Features by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

Hatch! by Roxie Munro

Hello, Bumblebee Bat by Darrin Lunde

Scholastic Question & Answer series

What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

-------------------------------------------------------------
Mixing & Matching
If you’re writing a Life Story . . .
  • Probably sequence (chronological) structure
  • Narrative writing style
If you’re writing a Survey Book . . .
  • Description/explanation, sequence, Q & A
  • Expository writing style
If you’re writing Specialized Nonfiction . . .
  • Probably sequence, compare & contrast
  • Narrative or expository writing style
If you’re writing a Concept Book . . .
  • Sequence, compare & contrast, Q & A, cause & effect, problem—solution, or invent your own
  • Probably expository writing style
 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Going International

Quite a few of my books have been translated into other languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Turkish, and Korean. It’s always fun to see what the foreign publishers do with the covers to appeal to their audience.

Sometimes they keep the art, and just replace the English title.
 
 


Sometimes they replace the art with images from the interior or brand new images.

And here's one of my favorites. A Chinese publisher bound When Rain Falls, Under the Snow, and Beneath the Sun together, and made a collage of images for the cover. Fascinating!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Book of the Week: Why Are Animals Green?

Educators often ask me which of my books would work best in their classroom. So this year, I’ve decided to feature a book each week and highlight related teaching materials and strategies.

The clear, simple text and stunning photos in Why Are Animals Green?  are perfect for teaching students about animal adaptations. You can start your lesson with a fun Readers Theater script that I’ve written to accompany the book. I’ve also created a Teachers Guide that makes connections to a wide variety of NGSS and Common Core standards.

For an innovative Reading Buddy experience, try a same-grade-level pairing in which an emergent reader shares Green Animals (two simple words per page) and a more advanced reader shares Why Are Animals Green? I guarantee great results.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Georgia Conference on Teaching and Learning: ALL Writers Depend on Mentor Texts Handout

I use mentor texts to help me determine the best voice, style, and structure for a work in progress. The resources on this page can get you started:


Nonfiction voice options span a continuum, from lively to lyrical. A writer’s topic and the approach he/she chooses will dictate the best voice choice for a particular piece.




 


Nonfiction Categories


 

Writing Styles


Common Text Structures



Books with Layered Text

Actual Size by Steve Jenkins

Beaks by Sneed B. Collard

The Bumblebee Queen by April Pulley Sayre

A Butterfly is Patient by Diana Hutts Aston

Dolphin Baby by Nicola Davies

An Egg is Quiet by Diana Hutts Aston

Here Come the Humpbacks! by April Pulley Sayre

Just Ducks! by Nicola Davies

Leaving Home by Sneed B. Collard

Meet the Howlers by April Pulley Sayre

Move! by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

Never Smile at a Monkey by Steve Jenkins

No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart

One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies

A Place for Bats by Melissa Stewart

A Place for Birds by Melissa Stewart

A Place for Butterflies by Melissa Stewart

A Place for Fish by Melissa Stewart

A Place for Frogs by Melissa Stewart

A Place for Turtles by Melissa Stewart

A Rock Is Lively by Diana Hutts Aston

A Seed is Sleepy by Diana Hutts Aston

What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

When the Wolves Returned by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

Wings by Sneed B. Collard


No Monkeys, No Chocolate Revision Timeline


 
How to Find Great Nonfiction Mentor Texts


AAAS/Subaru Prizes for Excellence in Science Books

ALA Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award

CRA Eureka! Nonfiction Children’s Book Award

Cook Prize for STEM Picture Book

Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices List

Cybils Nonfiction Awards

NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People

NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children

NSTA-CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults

And that's it! Phew.