In Leonard Marcus’ interview with author Beverly Cleary, which you’ll find while reading one of this month’s Chapter & Verse Book Club selections, Funny Business: Conversations with Writers of Comedy, she passes along a wonderful tip for prompting kids (and others) to write.
Q: In the Ramona books, Beezus worries about not having enough imagination.
A: Many children feel that way. I question teachers who expect children to write stories. I get desperate letters from children saying, “I can start a story but I never can finish it.” I think teachers would be wiser to teach children to listen and to write a page of dialogue. There are lots of good subjects, such as a quarrel between a brother and sister, that they would really like to write about. A description of something they like or don’t like. A description of a cafeteria lunch, for example, might set off some creative ideas.
Beverly Cleary celebrated her 94th birthday on April 12th of this year. I couldn’t find enough of her books on the shelves when I was growing up. I faithfully read every new book she wrote long into my adult years. And they still made me laugh out loud. Read a recent interview with Ms. Cleary on School Library Journal’s website.