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25 Reasons Why You Need This Book in Your Classroom

Little girl and her dog looking out the window.

Teachers,

Many of you are back in the classroom or are preparing to return. I’m sure you will want to help your students grow as writers. My book, How to Create a World, can help you do that. The book is suitable for third grade students, all the way to high schoolers. As you are gathering resources for this new school year, you should definitely add How to Create a World to your library.

Here’s 25 reasons why.

  1. Poetry is dope.
  2. No planning is required.
  3. It’s 8.5 x 11 – the perfect size for making copies.
  4. Students can self-guide themselves through the writing prompts.
  5. Makes teaching writing simple and easy. Removes guesswork and frustration.
  6. Develops fine motor skills through writing, doodling and coloring
  7. Stimulates creativity
  8. Students can work at their own pace.
  9. It can be used as an activity during rainy, snowy days.
  10. Easy to leave as sub plans.
  11. Great for morning work
  12. Appeals to lower level and higher level learners
  13. Illustrations ease the reluctant reader into reading and writing
  14. Feed imagination
  15. Students can share their work with their peers.
  16. Individual work or group work
  17. Builds listening skills by having students listen to their peers’ poems
  18. Builds confidence in public speaking by reading their poems to others
  19. Grows vocabulary
  20. Strengthens reading skills
  21. Improves writing skills
  22. Inspires students to write on their own
  23. Incorporates books by diverse authors into your classroom
  24. Aligns with Common Core standards
  25. You can spark the love of writing for the future Gwendolyn Brooks, Terrance Hayes, Pablo Neruda or Emily Dickinson who is sitting in your classroom.

Pre-order the book here while it’s on sale. You can order a single book or a set for your classroom. It will be released in September.

Coloring the Children’s Book Industry

Young African American woman reading book  with a coffee cup on desk

Talk a trip back in time to your school library. Walk along the fiction section and see classics like Little House on the Prairie, Dear Mr. Henshaw and the Boxcar Children. Now, stand in the nonfiction section. Browse books about the Civil War, reptiles and Pilgrims.

Count the books written by authors of color. You likely will arrive at a number smaller than the average classroom size.

Fast forward to 2018. The United States has elected and reelected its first African American president. A black women is one of the richest individuals on the planet. A Latino leader sits on the U.S. Supreme Court. Many minorities are leading corporations, school boards and governmental bodies.

But today’s school libraries don’t reflect the diversity of many of its student populations. Despite increased attention and effort to diversify children’s books, disparity still exists. 

To be specific, less than 20% of children books are authored by people of color, according to statistics compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center.

Their latest statistics show that roughly 3% of children books are written by African Americans, and barely 1% are written by Native Americans.

As an African American and a descendant of a Cherokee maternal great grandmother, this book is bigger than me.

Purchasing this book is not just about getting poetry and creative writing into the hands of children around the globe. It’s about giving black and Native American students a book written by someone who looks like them.

We can change the statistics of the children’s book industry: one book purchase at a time.  Order your copy here.

The Burden of a Teacher

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Yesterday, I announced the start of my Lighten the Load campaign. If you missed it, you can learn more about it here. Essentially, I am collecting donations to give copies of my books to students in under-resourced schools. For every $5 donated, I will donate 1 book to a classroom.

Here’s more context for why this is such an issue.

A 2016 Time article detailed the peril many U.S. teachers are facing as they try to stock their classrooms with necessary supplies. According to the Education Market Association, the average teacher spent about $500 of their own money on supplies. If you consider how little some teachers get paid, this makes this number an even staggering blow.

A survey conducted by Communities in Schools found that 90% of teachers in low-income areas spent their own money to buy school supplies due to parents who can’t afford to do so.

Teachers are tasked with a major feat of educating the next generation. Those who work in under-resourced schools often have children who have large learning gaps and come from challenging homes. They teach students with the highest needs with the lowest amount of resources. It’s no surprise that teacher turnover is higher in schools with large rates of poverty.

Sometimes hearing this information is overwhelming, and you may have felt helpless. Thankfully, you can do something.

Join the Lighten the Load campaign and make a donation of any size to help teachers spend less of their own money to provide their students with the materials they need to learn. You can donate via the Cash app at $chasitywrites or via PayPal.

Businesses can participate as well.

Thank you for Lightening the Load and Brightening a Child’s Day.

Lighten the Load Campaign

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You probably have heard about the hundreds and thousands of dollars teachers spend out of their own pockets to buy supplies and instructional materials for their classroom. Most teachers are underpaid, overworked and under-appreciated. This burden is even heavier on those who work in under-resourced schools.

One of my goals for my book, How to Create a World, is to help teachers and students in under-resourced schools easily bring poetry and creativity to their classrooms. These schools usually lack the means to bring working artists into their classrooms to do writing workshops.

While grants and governmental funding are available, those sources often don’t provide enough to fully close the gap such schools face. This is where I think a commonly quoted African proverb can be helpful: It takes a village to raise a child.

It takes a village to improve the education of children in all types of circumstances. We can definitely write long social media posts bemoaning the perils of U.S. public education. We can demand our elected officials increase funding. We can even call upon organizations and churches to do their part.

And all of those efforts have their place. But, we, too, can be a part of the solution that lightens the load. Here’s a simple way you can be a part of the solution.

From now until August 15, I’m doing a Lighten the Load campaign. Donations will be gathered to give copies of my instructional book to classrooms in under-resourced schools. My goal is to give full classroom sets. Most classrooms range from 20-30 students.

For every $5 donated, I will donate 1 book to a classroom. You can donate any amount you wish. If you are a business owner, your business can lighten the load as well by giving any amount you wish. You can donate via the Cash app at $chasitywrites or via PayPal.

Remember the Lighten the Load campaign ends August 15 so make your donation today. Thanks in advance for you help in Lightening the Load and Brightening a Child’s Day.

Learn more about my book here.

Process: Organization

AdobeStock_118294172.jpegA few months ago, I combined my handwritten and typed copy into one document. As I was doing this, I noticed my book lacked a cohesive structure. Not every chapter was the same. One chapter had 5 writing prompts and another had 3. The book felt like a mess.

I wanted to add a couple more nursery rhymes, but I was experiencing writer’s resistance because I didn’t know where to start. I thought if I knew the parts of each chapter, it would give me a starting place for adding more nursery rhymes.

                Here’s what I did. I selected five sections that each chapter would have: Nursery Rhyme, Narrative about the Nursery Rhyme, Analysis, Brainstorming, Writing and Revising. The sections mirror the creative process for writing a poem.

                The first section introduces a writer to another poet’s work.  Second, the narrative explains the poetic elements of the nursery rhyme. Third, the writer analyzes the nursery rhyme to make observations about what the author is doing on the page. Fourth, the writer brainstorms ideas for the poem she will create based on the inspiration of the nursery rhyme. Fifth, the writer revises one of the poems she wrote in the previous section.

I also thought a solid structure would help the graphic designer lay out each chapter and help teachers who use the book in whole class instruction. I wrote the five sections on post-it notes and placed them above my computer. I looked at them while I was writing to stay focused and consistent.

I have the five sections, but I need taglines for each section. This is where you come in. Share with me your ideas for what I can name the five sections of each section. I look forward to your ideas!

Order your copy of the book here.

 

Book Content

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How to Create a World is a poetry book that teaches students what the title indicates.

Using nursery rhymes as models, the book instructs students in the elements of poetry (i.e. form, stanza, rhyme, repetition). Rather than the typical poetry writing book that just gives students writing prompts, my book walks students through the entire writing process. They brainstorm, create, develop, and revise.

               This book includes illustrations and graphic organizers to evoke creative ideas. It  reaches the visual learner and the reluctant writer. Making lists and filling bubble charts feel less like writing and more like free play. Multiple pages give students opportunities to doodle. Not only is students’ creative nature developed, the book boosts their fine motor skills through handwriting and drawing. Multiple studies have shown a positive link between motor skills and brain development. And, a healthy brain means children learn better and retain more of what they learn.

The book will be available fall of 2018 in print form. Students will write, color and doodle in the book. An e-book will be released as well. Classroom sets are available for teachers and administrators who want to use the book as a part of whole class instruction. Pre-order your copy or set here.