Guest Post by Kitson Jazynka
When I talk to kids about writing, I often talk about how I write about what I love – horses, dogs, and kids, to name a few. I encourage kids to think about what they love, hoping they’ll discover topics they’d enjoy writing about.
In your classroom, you could ask students to think about something they love – is it baseball, cupcakes or horses? Then ask the kids to:
- Describe the thing they love using descriptive, sensory words. What does it feel like to throw a baseball, eat a cupcake or touch a horse? What do you hear? What do you see or taste? In my book, Boys Camp, Nate’s Story, one of my favorite parts is a scene where the main character shares his apple with a horse – something I love to do! In the text I wrote about what it sounds like, smells like and looks like to share an apple with a horse: “With one giant slurp, he sucked it into his large mouth. His jaws pumped up and down slowly. Kersplunch. Kersplunch. Kersplunch. Sweet-smelling foam oozed out of his mouth.”
- Toy with strong verbs that convey a lot of meaning with just a few letters. For instance, a horse doesn’t just “chew,” his jaws “pump!” Or he doesn’t just have to “go” from one place to another, he might “leap,” “prance,” “trudge” or “charge.”
- Think of funny or unexpected things that have happened or could happen in the context of the thing you love. What nutty thing happened during a baseball game or while eating a cupcake or being around a horse, for instance? Like the time my adorable (and sometimes mischievous) horse, Windy, stole a carrot from my pocket. Not long after, I wrote a poem for a writing workshop about the missing carrot. The poem later became the text for a beautifully-illustrated picture book called Carrot in My Pocket. Good things can happen from just thinking about – and writing about – the things we love.
Kitson Jazynka is the author of 10 books for children including National Geographic Kids Mission Wolf Rescue and Boys Camp Nate’s Story and Boys Camp Zee’s Story. She contributes regularly to the Washington Post’s KidsPost section, children’s magazines including American Girl, National Geographic Kids, and Young Rider. She also writes for adults in national horse and dog magazines. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband, two sons, two German Shepherd dogs and one very patient cat. Visit Kitson online at www.kitsonjazynka.com.