Do you want books to help your students...
                        ...learn the elements of literary analysis?
               different genres?
                        ...improve their reading and writing skills?

I recommend Nancy Loewen's Writer's Toolbox series.  So far, there are nine:
  • Action! Writing Your Own Play
  • It’s All About You: Writing Your Own Journal
  • Just the Facts: Writing Your Own Research Report
  • Make Me Giggle: Writing Your Own Silly Story
  • Once Upon a Time: Writing Your Own Fairy Tale
  • Share a Scare: Writing Your Own Scary Story
  • Show Me a Story: Writing Your Own Picture Book
  • Sincerely Yours: Writing Your Own Letter
  • Words, Wit, and Wonder: Writing Your Own Poem

These books accomplish a lot. First, many of them include a stand-alone story. In Once Upon a Time, for instance, Loewen retells "Little Red Riding Hood."  The story can be read and enjoyed all by itself. But then she adds blocks to most pages which explain the tools necessary for that particular genre. Again, in Once Upon a Time, Loewen shows that fairy tales need setting, characters, plot, dialogue, warnings, magic, greed, tricks, secret, repetition, mistakes, problem-solving, and a pleasing end. Phew! That sounds like an overwhelming list, but she keeps the descriptions brief, and she positions the story, so that it illustrates each tool she is explaining.

At the end of the books, she reviews the tools, gives "Getting Started Exercises," shares "Writing Tips," and directs readers to a Fact Hound site which lists related books and websites.

There's no lack of nourishment for your language arts menu here. Focus on one book a month or intersperse a few of them with the other language arts activities you are doing. Whatever you choose, I'm pretty sure you'll leave the table satisfied.

For an additional idea, see the assignment in Inspiration.
"Writing the first draft was a tedious ordeal for me (and still is), but revising was like solving a puzzle: move this sentence, cut this paragraph, change this word, summarize this, stretch that—the challenge of revision was what writing was all about."
                                                                                                     ~Nancy Loewen, children's author
Monday: I took my girls to our church's youth camp, dreaming about the next three days of doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. No one to taxi. No meals to cook. For the one meal my husband would be home, I planned to use a gift card.

Tuesday: A friend from the camp called and said Rebekah hurt her knee. At our visit to the emergency room, hurt was further defined: fractured tibial plateau.

Wednesday: My husband and I took Rebekah to an orthopaedic specialist. He looked at her x-ray and said, "This is serious." After consulting with another doctor, he informed us we would need to go to a children's hospital for further evaluation. Because her break is on the growth plate near the joint, they didn't feel qualified to help her.

Thursday: I picked up my other two girls at youth camp and tackled the huge laundry pile. In the evening, I noticed Rebekah's leg was considerably more swollen than it had been. And it was hot. I checked her temperature. Fever. Back to the emergency room for observation and eventually a shot to treat a potential blood clot, not to return home until 2:00 a.m.

Friday: Off to a children's hospital in another state, where Rebekah had an ultrasound and a CT scan. The doctor told us that Rebekah needs inpatient surgery.

Saturday: A day to catch up on everything that wasn't done all week, including cleaning and helping my oldest daughter with one last shopping trip before she leaves for college.

Sunday: Rest!

Tomorrow: We move our oldest to college. We find out when surgery will be scheduled.

Now do you understand why there are no new posts on this site?!
A friend sent me this link. (Thanks, Cynthia!) Be encouraged as you set your goals for the new year!