A note about voice from a fictional student:
"She [Francie] started fresh on a new page.

'Intolerance,' she wrote, pressing down hard on the pencil, 'is a thing that causes war, pogroms, crucifixions, lynchings, and makes people cruel to little children and to each other. It is responsible for most of the viciousness, violence, terror and heart and soul breaking of the world.'

She read the words over aloud. They sounded like words that came in a can; the freshness was cooked out of them. She closed the book and put it away."

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, page 229
Teacher Carolyn Foley sent a letter to the parents of her students. It's worth reading in full. Here is a quote she includes which piggybacks nicely with what I said here and here.
Don’t worry too much about technicalities and misspelling.  (Some-times we over-stress spelling because it gives us something easy and clear cut to land on.  We mustn’t overlook what is being said.)  The school has primary responsibility here.  Grammar can always be repaired if sincerity and interest are present.  On the other hand no amount of “correctness” can cover up the empty world of a child who hasn’t been helped to get interested and excited about something, preferably many things.
I don't know if my English teachers' instruction about voice floated right over my head or if they didn't include it in their lesson plans. All I know is that I didn't learn it from them. What did sink deep was the importance of sounding smart and using correct grammar. But, as this article explains, an impeccably correct essay can be a painfully voiceless one. And who wants to read it? No one.

_The author says, "I would define voice in writing as the quality of writing that gives readers the impression that they are hearing a real person, not a machine."

Let's be teachers who help our students develop their voices, providing practice, encouragement, and models. If their personalities and passions are welcomed at the writing party when they are young, they will likely continue attending when they are older.

It's long, but this article about voice in writing is excellent.
Here's a quick children's lit. quiz. I'm going to name some main characters; you're going to name their author.


Murdley Gurdson
Princess Penelope
Wodney Wat

Okay. What's your answer?

Did you say Helen Lester?  Ding. Ding. Ding. You are correct!

Lester also has a book about herself. In Author: A True Story, she tells the good and the bad of becoming an author. Your young writers will see an experienced writer facing rejection, persevering, practicing, using the writing process, being frustrated, being inspired.

They will see that they are much like Helen (well, except that they don't receive royalties for their work). Knowing that they are not alone may make a very difficult process just a tad easier to bear.

If you're not familiar with Murdley and the rest of the characters I mentioned, go to E/Lester on your next visit to the library and fill your bag with Lester's books. They are the kind you won't mind reading for the 20th time.
Thank you, Ann Voskamp, for this reminder. To read the full post, go here.

Your sin can’t separate you (or your child) from Christ.

Your Father is bigger than your failures, your flesh and your faults.

And your strengths can’t save you (or your child) in Christ.

Your ego, your excellence and your efforts won’t ever be big enough to be a Savior.

Your sins aren’t enough to keep your child from God and your strengths aren’t enough to get your child to God.

Your sins aren’t enough to keep you from God and your strengths aren’t enough to get you to God.

Your sins aren’t enough to destroy your life and your strengths aren’t enough to determine your life.

Your sins aren’t enough to separate you – and your strengths aren’t enough to save you.

That’s the bottom line: Your sins aren’t enough and your strengths aren’t enough. You are not enough — for this parenting gig, this marriage relationship, this homeschooling year, this work project.

Write it on the wall, ink it on some skin, because Christ wrote it with His blood:

Grace is the only thing that is ever enough.

Because the thing is – every sin and every strength always falls short. Every sin and every strength is always both in need of exactly the same thing: the grace of God.

Grace is the only thing that ever makes a way.

You find yourself praying it at the sink, at the desk, at the door:

Life 101 is Parenting 101: You can’t control outcomes — you can only model how to become.

Because Life isn’t about controlling things – but about letting God control you. Parenting isn’t about controlling kids – but about letting God control you. Parenting isn’t as much about raising the kids — but about laying yourself right down.

You only parent as well as you know your Father.

You only live as well as Christ lives in you.