I love, LOVE, L-O-V-E Ralph Tells A Story (Amazon Children’s Publishing, 2012), which is a story about a boy, Ralph, who has trepidation about writing. (It’s already become a book I suggest to teachers when I speak about mentor texts!) Ralph is that kid in your writing workshop who claims he doesn’t have anything to write about. He’s the kid who does everything he can to avoid writing. He’s the kid who is an inexperienced writer and just needs the push to get started. You know that kid… the one who has so much to say, but lacks the confidence to put his (or her) thoughts on paper.
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Abby Hanlon, author and illustrator of Ralph Tells A Story, understands what a primary grade writing workshop looks like. This was evidenced to me by third page spread in the book, which shows what the classroom looks like. It lists “Our Favorite Characters” and has pictures of popular characters like David, Frog & Toad, Madeline, Olivia, and Pigeon. That same page spread shows the teacher conferring with a writing partnership, kids’ desks in groups of four, children in writing partnerships, and kids writing long drafts in focus spots. The kids are even using the kind paper that provides a large box for a picture and a few lines for their words. There’s even a writing center that is on the children’s level that has paper, pencils, and stapler! It’s clear, just from these two pages, that Hanlon gets writing workshop.
But it doesn’t end there. Page after page I found myself relishing in the fact that this story is one kids who who are engaged in a writing workshop can relate to. Ralph gets encouragement from his friend Daisy. There is an underlying message that there is value in talking with others about your stories. Hanlon makes it clear that writing isn’t just about the words on the page… writing happens when you think, talk, and draw, too.
Ralph Tells A Story is a book I know you’ll want to have in your classroom library! Therefore, I wanted to chat with Abby Hanlon so you could get more insight into this book, her inspiration, and her writing process.