Here are some of my favorite books on the teaching of writing, plus others recommended by trusted colleagues. You’ll note that Heinemann is THE largest publisher of writing education titles. Orders made via their website receive a 10% discount. You can also click on each highlighted title to link to www.amazon.com and to magazine/newsletter websites.
1/2020 Please note that it’s been a long time since I compiled the resources below. Some may be out of print. Many of you have written to say that you found this bibliography useful all the same. I’m so glad! These days, of course, there is a huge amount of excellent information on writing to be found online just by searching for topics of interest. For example, recently I was sent this link to a theater seat store with information on writing for theater and film and further links to additional topics within that genre.
11/2021 Many thanks to Marisa Miller for providing the following link to an online article with many useful tips about everything from developing one’s writing skills to scholarships for writers, manuscript formatting, book proposals, and more: Money Saving Guide for Authors and Writers.
11/2022 Many thanks to youth services librarian, Kelly Ackford, and a student writer. Anna, for providing this link to a site with basic poetry writing resources for young writers.
After THE END: Teaching and Learning Creative Revision, by Barry Lane. Heinemann, 1993.
Especially good insights into the revision process, including how important it is to ask young writers the kinds of questions that help guide revision.
And with a Light Touch: Learning about Reading, Writing, and Teaching with First Graders, by Carol Avery. Heinemann, 1993.
This is THE book I recommend most often to primary teachers.
The Art of Teaching Writing, by Lucy Calkins, Heinemann, 1994. Practical advice from a teacher researcher and well-known writing educator.
Craft Lessons: Teaching Writing K-8
By Ralph Fletcher and Joann Portalupi, 1998, $17.50 Stenhouse Publishers
Our friend, Ralph Fletcher, pulls through again! This resource gives SO many practical ideas and specific lessons for coaching each of the writing traits. The book is divided into segments by age level: K-2, 3-4, and 5-8. The literature suggested to support each lesson is outstanding. And from leads, to transitions, to satisfying conclusions, it’s all in here. Another must have! (Review by Maureen Curran)
Creating Writers: Linking Assessment and Writing Instruction, by Vicki Spandel and Richard Stiggins. Addison Wesley/Longman, 1995.
If you’ve had 6-trait training (and even if you haven’t), this book is worth reading for its insights into the writing process, and ways to integrate instruction and assessment.
A Fresh Look at Writing, by Donald Graves. Heinemann, 1994.
Written by one of the premier “gurus” of the writing education field, this book is packed with useful information on teaching children to write.
How to Write the Story of Your Life, by Frank P. Thomas. Writer’s Digest Books, 1984. A great resource for memoir writing. Though intended for adults, teachers will find plenty of ideas they can use with students to spark autobiographical writing.
The Most Wonderful Writing Lessons Ever, by Barbara Mariconda, 1999, Scholastic. Step-by-step lessons especially for teachers of Grades 2 – 4 help students improve their creative writing.
Nonfiction Matters: Reading,Writing and Research in Grades 3-8
By Stephanie Harvey, 1998, Stenhouse Publishers
I shared this book with lots of staff last year and have heard excellent reports from those who have used it. If I still had my own classroom, I would use this wonderfully written professional resource to guide my teaching of research skills and nonfiction writing. Ms Harvey has some outstanding techniques for motivating students to really want to do that report we assign. It is all about authentic task, choice and authentic resources. Terrific! (Review by Maureen Curran)
Seeking Diversity: Language Arts With Adolescents, by Linda Rief. Heinemann, 1992.
This is an incredible resource with lots of great lesson ideas–especially for middle school teachers. NOTE: Look for books by Nancie Atwell if you want other good middle school titles.
Teaching Writing: A Workshop Approach, Grades 2-6, by Adele Fiderer. Scholastic, 1993.
An excellent and relatively short book on the nuts and bolts of organizing a Writing Workshop.
What a Writer Needs, by Ralph Fletcher. Heinemann, 1993.
Engagingly written, with many personal anecdotes, this writer teacher will inspire you, while giving you good, practical advice on how to teach writing.
Write on Target: Preparing Young Writers to Succeed on State Writing Tests
By Tommy Thomason and Carol York, 2000, $12.95 (Christopher Gordon Publishers)
Every teacher needs their own copy of this book. Each chapter takes only 5-7 minutes to read, but offers so many insights as to what we can do to help kids succeed on state writing assessment tests. Guess what? We can do that by coaching them to be successful writers. (Review by Maureen Curran)
Writer to Writer: How to Conference Young Authors
By Tommy Thomason, 1998, $12.95 (Christopher Gordon Publishers)
This little book gives us so many clues on how to serve as coaches, rather than editors, for our writing students. Once again, the short chapters are easy reading and brim full of practical techniques to help us provide response and feedback for our student writers, something most of us aren’t successful at now. There are also some practical ideas for teaching young writers to conference themselves. You gotta have this book! (Review by Maureen Curran)
Writers’ Workshop: beliefs into action and Readers’ Workshop: beliefs into Action
by Linda Lee, Mary Haymond, and Donna Langeman. These two publications are designed to accompany inservice workshops by the authors, classroom teachers in the Spokane area. Several primary teachers at my school attended workshops by the authors and raved about the workshops and these resources, which are stuffed with easy-to-follow lesson ideas, and reproducible forms. To contact the authors about presentations, or to order their publications: Mary Hammond: (509) 467-9361 or
email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or check out their website: http://www8.inetba.com/readersworkshop/index2.ivnu
Some favorite books on writing for students AND teachers:
WRITE SOURCE handbooks: Write One (K-1), Write Away (1-2), Write on Track (3-4), Writer’s Express (5-6), Write Source 2000(6-7), and others up through college age. For information and orders, call 1-800-289-4490. Or go to the Great Source Education Group catalog site: http://www.greatsource.com/catalog.html If you want a textbook resource for teaching writing this series is the best I’ve seen.
Bauer, Marion Dane. What’s Your Story?: A Young Person’s Guide to Writing Fiction.
Clarion, 1992. To order direct from Clarion: 1-800-225-3362.
Bauer, Marion Dane. Our Stories: A Fiction Workshop for Young Authors. Clarion, 1996. To order direct form Clarion: 1-800-225-3362.
Bauer, Marion Dane. A Writer’s Story. Clarion, 1995. To order direct from Clarion: 1-800-225-3362.
Byars, Betsy. The Moon and I. Beech Tree Books, 1996.
Giff, Patricia. Write Up a Storm with the Polk Street School. Dell Yearling, 1993.
James, Elizabeth, and Carol Barkin. Sincerely Yours: How to Write Great Letters. Clarion, 1993.
Janeczko, Paul B. The Place My Words Are Looking For: What Poets Say About and Through Their Work. Bradbury, 1990.
Janeczko, Paul B. Poetry from A to Z: a Guide for Young Writers. Bradbury, 1994.
Koehler-Pentacoff, Elizabeth The ABC’s of Writing for Children Quill Driver Books/World Dancer Press, 2003. Subtitle: 114 Children’s Authors and Illustrators Talk About the Art, the Business, the Craft & the Life of Writing Children’s Literature.
Levine, Gail Carson. Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly. HarperCollins, 2006. An excellent and highly readable how-to-write-fiction book for ages 10 to adult by the author of Newbery Honor Book Ella Enchanted. Levine includes lots of fun writing exercises along with great “nuts and bolts” information that beginning writers will find invaluable.
Livingston, Myra Cohn. Poem-making: Ways to Begin Writing Poetry. HarperCollins, 1991.
Naylor, Phyllis. How I Came to be a Writer. Macmillan, 1987.
Resources for Teachers (and other adults) who are interested in writing for publication:
Classes /Coursework/Conferences/Internet sites
The Institute of Children’s Literature — This is where I got my start as a children’s writer, and so have a surprising number of other children’s witers I know.
SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). This is THE national organization for children’s writers and illustrators. You do NOT have to be already published to join. There are local chapters of SCBWI in most states, which you can find through the national website. Regional newsletters will likely have information about local children’s writing classes at community colleges and universities in your area. In my experience, most of those classes are taught by published children’s writers.
Magazines and Newsletters: (Note: prices may not be current)
SCBWI Bulletin–Published six times per year. Contains articles, advice and publisher updates. Subscription is part of your membership when you join the national Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Children’s Book Insider–12 issues per year. Laura Backes, Editor. P.O. Box 1030, Fairplay, CO 80440-1030.
Children’s Writer–12 issues per year. Susan Tierney, Editor. The Institute of Children’s Literature, West Redding, CT 06896-1124. Phone: 1-800-999-2160.
Writer’s Digest–Monthly magazine.
Publisher’s Weekly–Special issues on Children’s Books, February and July issues.
Brande, Dorothea. Becoming a Writer.
Cameron, Julia. The Artist’s Way: A Spirtual Path to Higher Creativity.
Cameron, Julia. The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life.
Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market–updated yearly. Published by Writer’s Digest Books. Tells who’s looking for what, where to send things, and to whom!
Elbow, Peter. Writing Without Teachers.
Elbow, Peter. Writing With Power.
Fox, Mem. Dear Mem Fox, I Have Read All Your Books, Even the Pathetic Ones.
Giblin, James Cross. Writing Books For Young People.
Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down the Bones.
Goldberg, Natalie. Wild Mind.
Karl, Jean.. How to Write and Sell Children’s Picture Books
Koehler-Pentacoff, Elizabeth The ABC’s of Writing for Children
McKee, Robert. Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting.
Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.
Litowinsky, Olga. Writing and Publishing for Children in the 1990’s: the Inside Story from the Editor’s Desk.
Seuling. How to Write a Children’s Book and Get it Published.
Strunk, William, Jr. and E.B. White. Elements of Style.
Underdown, Harold and Lynne Rominger. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books.
Wyndham, Lee. Writing for Children & Teenagers.
Zinsser, William. On Writing Well: the Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
From the Writing Curriculum Files of Children’s Author, Suzanne Williams www.suzanne-williams.com