An Anchor Text For Literacy—Ten Truths About Why I Wrote You Are a Reader!/You Are a Writer! by April Jones Prince
It’s a new school year, with new faces, new routines… and new books!
As you look to encourage and empower your new crew of readers and writers, the two-books-in-one You Are a Reader!/You Are a Writer! can be an anchor text to kick off literacy workshop and invigorate your class throughout the year.
You Are a Reader!/You Are a Writer! is a celebration of literacy and its joys, challenges, triumphs, strategies, and possibilities. In these pages, you’ll find diverse characters and an abundance of empathy and open minds. The two sides of the book meet in the middle to remind us that “readers are writers and writers are readers and readers are writers…”
This book is personal, as all books are for creators. As a visiting author, literary agent, and teacher of writing, I continually share reading recommendations with gusto and work to help writers stretch and grow. This book is an extension of that—your own portable cheerleader!
Here are the top 10 truths about why I wanted to bring this book into the world.
1. To lift up young readers and writers
The stories we hear from others and those we tell ourselves are powerful. When we tell kids they are readers and writers, we help them internalize this message and perpetuate it themselves. Believing in yourself is half the battle, and often that starts with others believing in us.
2. To lift you up
Teaching writing can feel like wading knee-deep through the rapids, with each little whirlpool needing special tending. Many teachers lack confidence in their own writing, which makes teaching writing even more challenging. You ARE a writer, and recognizing that benefits your students, too.
3. To share that we are ALL readers and writers, a fact that is crucial to a healthy society
Reading and writing are essential activities for navigating the world—from reading news, recipes, and street signs to writing text messages, emails, and thank-you notes. Whatever jobs kids grow up to do, they are our future citizens and leaders. Proficient readers and writers are more likely to stay in school, vote, contribute to society, and raise readers and writers themselves. Our work on this front is vitally important.
4. To remind us to think outside the dust jackets
We’re all booklovers here, but there are so many things to read and write besides traditional books and stories. They’re all worthy and can serve as springboards to more reading and writing.
5. Because writing is hard
As Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. You just have to sit down at the typewriter and bleed.” Sometimes the words flow. Sometimes, every sentence is a struggle. Clear writing is clear thinking, and it often takes time and (much) thought to discover exactly what we’re trying to say. But pushing through to develop and hone a piece of writing—a piece of shared wisdom—is worth it.
6. Because reading can be difficult, too
Reading isn’t a natural process. I have many memories of six-year-old me striving to complete the “Grolier Reading Improvement System” at home. But as the key to all other learning and a great deal of potential enjoyment, again, reading is worth it. The first time you see a child flopped on their belly reading voluntarily? Pure bliss!
7. Because there is no book like this
Likemultiplication and division, reading and writing are two sides of the same coin.Now, they are two sides of the same book! Drawing attention to craft, structure, or content during certain read alouds and circling back to those nuggets at writers’ workshop (or better yet, during a devoted literacy block) can make for more meaningful and efficient instruction. The double-sided, parallel format of this book is an inviting, upbeat reminder of that.
8. Because reading and writing connect us across time and space
Stories and information are timeless gifts shared between and among writers and readers. They are nourishment for our souls. So. Very. Powerful.
9. Because I couldn’t get illustrator Christine Davenier’s sprightly artwork out of my head
Christine is a master at capturing the emotions and nuances of everyday kids, and I wrote this text with her art in mind. Her illustrations for Reader!/Writer! celebrate readers and writers of different ages, abilities, interests, and backgrounds. Each of her 26 vivid, true-to-life characters has a story about which kids can infer and imagine, rewarding repeated reading.
Finally, I wrote this book…
10. To thank you and provide an anchor for your work
My heart sings when I see humans engaging in the wonderfully worthy work of reading and writing. Double points when smiles are involved! Read and write on, and know I am cheering you on each step of the way.
Because YOU are a Reader and a Writer. And readers are writers and writers are readers and readers are writers and…
April Jones Prince (@AprilEdit) is the author of the double-sided picture book You Are a Reader!/You Are a Writer!. She lives in Massachusetts and is a frequent presenter at schools and libraries. You can find more reading and writing resources for parents plus literacy games for kids at AprilJonesPrince.com.