Tuesday, March 24, 2015

24: Mentors...

I began today's professional development session on mentor texts
with this quote and after reading it aloud inquired
"How do Cynthia Rylant's words strike you?"
There was a buzz that hushed only when I pulled out this excerpt
from "The Book Thief"
letting its words swirl and swing
hang and dance
fall heavy
and then rise up again

Getting to know Hans Hubermann in Markus Zusak's "The Book Thief," page 36.

Those five months were definitely the hardest.
Every night, Leisel would nightmare.
Her brother's face.
Staring at the floor.
She would wake up swimming in her bed...
drowning in the flood of sheets...
the bed that was meant for her brother floated boatlike in the darkness...
it sank, seemingly into the floor...

He came in every night...
a stranger to kill the aloneness...
Trust accumulated quickly, due primarily to the brute strength
of the man's gentleness, his thereness.

Teachers' eyes, 
their hearts
with this text
its song
and basked in the brilliance of Markus Zusak's construction

I said, "When I read this book, my writing made sense:
the sentence fragments
the long sentences
the way I may 'break the rules'
the way I try to fashion word pictures"
I said, "When I write every day on my blog, it's his writing I hear"

And he's my mentor
He shows me what good writing sounds like
He helps me envision what's possible
He empowers me to take risks
He invites me to use my voice to tell these tales

Some of them
I could see it in their eyes
immediately felt the text that had changed their writing landscape
they saw it and remembered it and connected with it 
all over again

I said, "I could teach craft moves with so many books 
but what is special is that this book has my heart; it is mine
I get it; I love it"

And now they love it too
because of our common experience
because of my excitement
because of its lyrical qualities
because of its blessing
because of its possibility for writers

Write on,


  1. You are so right. We become writers by reading the works of others. We use their ideas, style, phrasing, etc. to take our ideas from our minds to written word. Love this post.

  2. We can only write what we have read, if we don't read. . . study. . . think. . . we cannot write well. Sounds like it was a great day for you and the teachers.


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