#IMWAYR It’s Monday! Here’s What I’m Reading: Some Writer & Witness

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! is hosted by Jen Vincent  @Teach Mentor Texts & Kellee Moye @ Unleashing Readers.

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Melissa Sweet’s Some Writer: The Story of E. B. White is one of those books you just want to carry around with you all the time, just so that you can have the pleasure of reading it over and over again, savoring the words and glorying in the artwork.  Here, for instance, is one page I return to time and time again:

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What I love about that page (apart from the fact that it centers around one of my favorite passages from Charlotte’s Web) is what I love about this book as a whole – it is such a magical celebration of E.B. White’s life, work, and brilliant imagination.

Melissa Sweet tells the story of White’s life, tracing the arc of his boyhood through his years  at the New Yorker and to the writing years that gave us cherished books like Charlotte’s Web.  I loved learning how White worked through his ideas, and what inspired those ideas in the first place.  Sweet shares snippets from letters and journals, as well as photographs and sketches; these are exquisitely woven together with Sweet’s text and art work.

As a life long admirer of E.B.White, I’ve read his books (Here is New York is a personal favorite), letters (such fun!) and his short pieces and essays for The New Yorker.  I’ve loved his humor and his extraordinary ability to write profound truths in simple, direct ways. Sweet’s book allows young readers, also,  to appreciate the writerly life of one of their most beloved authors – it’s a window into his writing life, as well as the life he lived.

E.B. White loved the power of the written word and understood its craft, and Sweet’s book will be windows to the craft of writing for our students; I will be looking for ways to weave its pages into our writing workshops.

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Here’s a wonderful interview with Melissa Sweet, in which she shares her thoughts about the creative process:

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/496699113/496755024

I’ve been on the hunt for a historical fiction read aloud to open our genre study, which is no easy task – so many fabulous choices!  But, this year, I brought a different kind of focus to this hunt; I want our read aloud to connect to historical events that have a particular resonance to America today – race relations, social justice, and the search for truth in a time of hysterical falsehoods.   As I rummaged around in my classroom library, I found Karen Hesse’s Witness.  Re-reading it this weekend, I knew that I had found the book I was in search of.

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Here’s the synopsis from Scholastic’s site:

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Witness is a powerful story, and the beautifully crafted voices of each character tell the story with compelling nuance.  I was moved by the way in which this book, written in 2001, connects to conversations we are having today about race, prejudice, and standing up for the truth.  Witness reveals the best in us and the worst in us, it is a deftly told cautionary tale of how easy it is for good people to be swayed by evil, or to look away when evil comes, as it often does, in the guise of patriotism and religious fervor.  It is an important book to share and discuss with our students, especially now.

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10 thoughts on “#IMWAYR It’s Monday! Here’s What I’m Reading: Some Writer & Witness

  1. Our staff is reading Some Writer and we are LOVING it too!!! Living around the Belgrade Lakes region of Maine adds to our enjoyment. And I LOVE Karen Hesse!!! I will look for Witness. I haven’t read that one yet. Thank you!!!

  2. I adore Some Writer! and brought back Here Is New York when I took my students to NYC. You may also enjoy The Story of Charlotte’s Web, another one about White that I’ve loved. I’d forgotten about Witness, don’t remember much now, will check it out! Have a great week, Tara.

  3. It has been awhile since I read Witness – a perfect book to share now. I think a must re read for me. I also have Some Writer sitting on my book shelf where I can explore it a little bit at a time. What a fun way to share information about a great writer. Thanks

  4. Have not heard of Witness, thanks for bringing it up.
    Some Writer is fantastic. I really loved the chapters that centered around Charlotte’s Web and Trumpet of the Swan.

  5. Some Writer is one of my faves from the past year for sure. Absolutely gorgeous and such a celebration of a quiet writing life well lived. I am looking forward to getting my own copy and rereading at my leisure and, yes, sharing with my students. Witness is very powerful. I usually have a number of students stumble on it in Children’s Lit and YA lit and then they booktalk and “sell” it to everyone else.

  6. I own a copy of Witness but haven’t read it yet! Really looking forward to finding it in my bookshelves and reading it soonest. I am so intrigued by Some Writer! I should check out whether we have it in our library!

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