Blog Tour: Enticing Hard-To-Reach Writers by Ruth Ayres

November 20, 2017

Those kids. Everyone has one.

Kids who make “I-don’t-want-to” faces, who do everything else than what you ask, who push. your. buttons.

You can see his face. She drives you crazy. They won’t stop!

Those kids. They come from hard places.

Ruth Ayres shares stories of her own children who have faced life harder than what you want to imagine. They own stories of inflicted pain, punched cruelty, and irreversible heartache. Those kids.

Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers changed my life. Those kids remain constant in my life and my expectations remain too, but now my approach to supporting them is different. In the first section, Ruth shares a couple of examples of how trauma has affected her son, Jay. The usual strategies weren’t working with him. Too much choice didn’t help. I learned that I need to see past the action and take the time to learn what works with the individual. I’m parting through the behavior to get to their hearts.

Kids who experience trauma in their lives often live in fear. Little things like not having a pencil (22) can create a problem. Because of how their brains have been affected, those kids do not take the natural approaches to solve a problem. They need our guidance step by step. Kids who live in fear react in ways that look like defiance or laziness. Ruth says, “If we are going to help children rewrite their histories of hard into stories of hope, then we need to develop new thinking paths in the brain. The way to do this is to short-circuit fear.” (17)


You might be wondering: I thought Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers is about strategies and tools for teaching, resources for managing Writer’s Workshop.

It is.

And more!

Ruth Ayres interweaves strategies with stories and gives you numerous resources to help make your teaching stronger.  The good news is we can help heal brains that have been touched by trauma. In her book, Ruth asks you questions to guide reflection on your teaching. Key moves are listed at the end of the chapter to help you be more intentional with your teaching.



In the second section of the book, Ruth shares ways to entice your students to write. In chapter 9: Everyone Hates Writing, a list of reasons not to write are given. I have heard them from kids. I have heard them in my own head. Ruth nudges you to see the deeper meaning of writing and why writing is important. On tough days, we all need these reminders. Their stories matter and Ruth’s words guide me in helping them know that.



In the third section of the book, Ruth shares a quick reference sheet of ways to talk with kids to write. She then ends each chapter with “Taking the First Steps” that help to try one thing. You can do more, but start with one. Then try another. She shares examples of conferences and kids’ struggling scenarios that you can relate to. The stories will stick with you and be a reference point for your teaching.  You will have a fresh, new approach. More importantly, your heart will be touched and “those kids” take on new meaning.



I celebrate the arrival of this book with you as you continue your journey of teaching children and as you embrace writing. And because this is Book Savors and I can’t resist, I leave you with a list of moves that make the writing in this book a powerful read for any teacher.

Savorings for Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers:

  • QR codes for video mini-lessons
  • Step by Step questions for reflection on teaching
  • Charts of conferring teaching points
  • Stories that linger – make you ponder ‘those kids’
  • Hope – your part in the process of healing
  • Writing process moves
  • Writer’s notebook samples
  • Visuals for revising
  • Introduction and Conclusion to remind you that stories matter and we are important in helping the healing process.

Book Give Away

Thanks to Stenhouse Publishing for donating two books to be given away on each blog tour stop. Share your reflections below and enter to win by Nov. 27 at EST.

If you purchase Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers before November 30th, you are eligible for a free registration to Enticing Writer’s Book Club.

Check out the previous book tour stops:


Turk and Runt

November 10, 2017

Image result for turk and runtI was perusing through my Thanksgiving books and came across Turk and Runt. The book is hilarious. Lots of play on words and voices. Lisa Wheeler did an incredible job of thinking like a turkey in pursuit. Just had to mention it. Click on this link for more mini-lesson ideas.

For a video of the book, click here.

Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners

October 9, 2017

Laurie Keller (author/illustrator) invites readers to remember the importance of manners. Based on the Golden Rule, the characters dialogue about what manners mean in Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners. Mr. Rabbit wants his new neighbors, the Otters, to be Friendly, Polite with please and thank you, and excuse me. Of course, everyone should be Honest too. Kind, Considerate, Play Fair, Cooperate, Share all make their appearances as well.Do Unto Otters: Book About Manners | Main photo (Cover)

The reader gets swooped into an auditorium of play. Laurie Keller’s illustrations are whimsically rich setting the stage for deeper understanding. Words are embedded in the background to enhance the meaning of each manner. Off-side scenes are an additional reference to each manner shared.

Savorings for reading and writing for Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners:

  • Great text to use for Voice Inflection and Reader’s Theater
  • Models character mental conflict – reader views the thinking bubbles
  • Use of the Colon
  • Ellipses – slows down character thinking – “How would I …  … like otters …  … to treat me?”
  • Asides – (hmmm… maybe not the treats)
  • Example of a Thank You Note
  • Magic of 3 – Series of examples for each manner is listed in 3 groups
  • Contractions – I’d, you’d, wouldn’t
  • Bantering between two characters
  • Reflection
  • Metacognition – thinking about his thinking
  • Word Pictures
  • Setting
  • Scenes / Exploding the Moment

PES Life-line book (November)


Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great

September 25, 2017

Bob Shea combines fun with a powerful theme of self-worth in his book, Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great.

Goat reminds me of Eeyore, seeing life with a rain cloud. Perspective. Life is good and Goat is having an okay life … until Unicorn shows up. Unicorn has some special abilities – who wouldn’t love cupcakes with delicious frosting raining down on you? Exactly. Goat looks on and thinks, what do I have that’s so special?Related image

Our students come to school with their perspective zoomed in on not-so-great circumstances or maybe they are doing just fine but someone else is doing it better. Perspective. We as teachers can relate too. I may be “dropping my signature dance moves…” in teaching while someone else tweets a special, magical happening in their class. Both are worthy!  Bob Shea must relate. He realizes everyone has awesomeness and magic and together we make great teams. What we do together makes each day the best ever for our kids!

Pierceton Elementary School and South Whitley Elementary School have adopted a book each month that allows cross grade level discussions, highlighting social skills, endorsing the love of reading, and going deeper with a text. Mike McClain, principal at PES, is the featured reader for this YouTube video.  Nate Wessels, guidance counselor at SWES, is the featured reader for this YouTube video. The kids love this book! What a great start to our 2017-2018 school year.

Savorings for reading and writing for Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great:

  • Onomatopoeia/ Close Echo – rattle, rattle; chomp, chomp
  • Adverbs – totally, heavenly,
  • Humor –
  • Character Change
  • Compare/Contrast – activities of both; strengths
  • Interjections – “Oh Man!” Whoa! Lucky!
  • Talks to the reader – “That’s not all! It gets much, much worse.
  • Voice
  • 1st Person Narrative
  • Font Manipulation – discuss why certain words are in large type or in color
  • Hyphenated words – Fan-tas-tic, show-off,
  • Transitions – until, then, at the big talent show,
  • Apostrophe Usage – contraction and possessive
  • How-to scene – Magic trick
  • Vocabulary – cloven hooves


Dog in Charge

July 13, 2017

Image result for Dog in Charge by KL GoingDog in Charge is a book full of mischievous fun. Do you have a dog? How about a cat? Does your dog obey? In this book by K. L. Going, Dog is put in charge of the five family cats while the family goes to the store. Yep! You guessed it! Disaster hits the house. Dan Santat‘s illustrations highlights the sneakiness of the cats.

The good dog, smart dog, the very best dog does his best to keep order as each cat disappears for fun. One topples milk. Another powders on the dresser. Flower pots break. The house is a disaster.

Have fun reading and thinking of adventures your dog or cat have while you are away. The book just might give you an idea to write about.

See the book read aloud by The Cozy Chair.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Dog in Charge:

  • Personification – you feel empathy for the dog
  • Comic frame structure
  • Repeating Structure and lines
  • Onomatopoeia – “Kerplooie! went the clothes
  • Everyday Happening – pets


The Giant Hug

July 11, 2017

Letter writing is an act of love, emotions and stories captured on paper to be read and Image result for the giant hugreread, touching hearts on several levels. Email, texts, snaps – these avenues also send love. My experience is a letter has character, the handwriting, the thought, the time.

Sandra Horning must believe the letter has power as she shapes Owen, a grandson, into sending his grandma a hug – via a letter. Owen hugs the post master, who hugs the mail sorter, who hugs the driver, who hugs the pilot until Granny finally receives her personal, special hug.

Throughout the story, The Giant Hug, the recipient of the hug has a positive reaction. Their days brighten. This story shares a bucket-filling philosophy: when you give cheer, cheer is emulated.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Giant Hug:

  • Letter Writing
  • Vocabulary – grimaced, blushed
  • Repetitive Structure
  • Snapshot scenes
  • Community Building

That’s Not Funny!

July 10, 2017

Children, and pranksters of all ages, enjoy pulling tricks on each other. The reaction can be shocking or funny. Social media aides in displaying embarrassing acts. Sometimes Related imagewhat seems harmless to the culprit creates a catastrophe in the end.

In That’s Not Funny! by Jeanne Willis, Hyena triggers negative consequences to his simple and unassuming harmless prank – a slippery banana peel strategically placed within another character’s path. One animal gets injured which trips a chain reaction of accidents. All the while, Hyene laughs and laughs.

In the end, the domino effect circles back to him. The circular mishap provides a venue for discussion on kindness and respect.

Savorings for That’s Not Funny!:

  • Cause and Effect
  • Repeating Structure
  • Repeating Line – “But Hyena laughed and laughed because when….”
  • Vivid Verbs – skidded, torpedoed
  • Community building – another person’s perspective, harmful emotionally as well as physically

PES library book