I'm so excited to share I just read Celebrating Writers, From Possibilities Through Publication by Ruth Ayers with Christi Overman and it is the focus for the Literacy Connection group here in Central Ohio. I feel very fortunate to have a local professional group that believes in spending time studying a text together. The time we spend helps foster conversation, thinking, time to try and apply ideas, and time to reflect. I have to share I had a little sneak peak of this book while at a writing retreat with Ruth, in the summer of 2012. I remember she shared a small section and we were each suppose to respond to her writing, in a small group. However, I can't remember what part of this brilliant book that was. I remember reading it and thinking this is such smart thinking I can't wait to read it. I also remember I spent the entire writing retreat trying to focus on writing and watching her out of the corner of my eye. All the while pinching myself because we chose to write on the same cabin porch for a bit. If you have every had the opportunity to meet Ruth she is genuine, adorable, sweet and thoughtful about helping writers of all ages. This book represents Ruth well and I have to admit, I'm a bit jealous of Christi Overman who co-authored this book with Ruth.
Chapter one is about expanding writing celebrations and right away I felt this book was a comfortable read. Classroom stories guide the content and message for the teacher. Classroom stories show the ideas presented by the authors in action. The classroom stories are all scenarios we have probably experienced at one time or another. This book is about stretching what we do and ways to embrace writers.
I love these two statements that both start with sometimes. "Sometimes the things left unsaid are more powerful than ten teaching points put together." Also a little bit later, "Sometimes space, although difficult to give, is best." These are good life lessons for us to think about in our classrooms and out of our classrooms. In a hurried and rushed school day with lots of students it's easy to forget not everyone likes to be engaged with others all the time and it's okay to be a bit quieter to process and think. Essential thinking is established and grounds the reader in the first chapter.
Publication and celebration are not the same. Publication is making the writing public and celebration is about the success writers have on their journey towards publication. You must read the second paragraph on pg. 5. It has more thinking about publication vs. celebration. Ruth and Christi conclude this paragraph with, "Celebration is essential to the livelihood of young writers."
Something I've changed this year during our writing workshop is a mid-workshop teaching point, which is more often than not a celebration of something I have seen while conferring. Ruth and Christi share the objective of celebrations is to encourage and fuel the writer. I have seen that in my room. After each celebration, the room seems to return to a hush with writers focused on the important work they are creating. I hadn't really thought about celebrations as a way to work through the hard parts of writing. I am also thinking about the message celebrations send to my emergent writers after reading the five celebration messages Ruth and Christi share in the book.
I tweeted Ruth when I finished reading Chapter 1, asking or seeking confirmation with their word choice for the three factors needed to make celebrations genuine. Of course her reply was the word choice was very intentional. Celebrations need response, reflection, and rejoice. The first chapter also clearly sends the message that celebrations are small and by being small big growth can/will happen.