As part of my writing process, I read dozens of books by other nonfiction authors. When I read, I make notes about the craft choices authors make in terms of voice, structure, POV, and other unique elements that add up to amazing books. I recently decided to share my notes (in a searchable format), so teachers and fellow writers can see what I find new and noteworthy. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
Author: Sally Lloyd-Jones
Illustrator: Neal Layton
Publication Info.: Schwartz& Wade, July 23,2019
Ages/Grades: ages 4 to 8 (or aspiring authors of all ages)
Categories: second-person POV, expository nonfiction, how-to structure
First lines: “When you want to write a book, first you need a Good Idea.”
Overview (from the publisher): “Want to write a book? Well, the spunky, know-it-all narrator of this side-splitting story can tell you just how to do it. She walks readers through the whole process, from deciding what to write about (like dump trucks or The Olden Days) to writing a story that doesn’t put everyone to sleep and getting people to buy your book (tips: be nice, give them cookies, and if all else fails, tie them to a chair).”
What’s noteworthy for authors and educators:
After reading this book, I’m left wondering why I have shelves and shelves of “how-to-write” books with hundreds of pages. All I need is Look! I Wrote a Book! Lloyd-Jones and Layton have crafted a concise, hilarious, yet so-helpful how-to book for beginning students and aspiring grown-up writers alike. Lloyd-Jones helps readers assess their ideas, figure out their audience, plot, draft, revise, and even create titles (my weakness for sure).
For aspiring nonfiction authors, this book is a wonderful example of the less-used “how-to” expository text structure. Paired with a second-person POV, the reader is left thinking “sure I can write a book.”
Additional resources for authors, educators, and parents:
- Write a book following Lloyd-Jones’s instructions. Is there any better activity? LLoyd-Jones even tells you what materials you need to get started (table, pencil, paper, stapler, etc.)
- Artists Helping Children has instructions for making many types of books, including scrolls, heart-shaped books, and a fold-in square book.
- Many creators like to have a special journal for their ideas and doodles. Buy a composition notebook or inexpensive sketchbook and decorate with torn paper and spray adhesive. Or make your own recycled journal like this one.