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.
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: