Parents and teachers of middle graders are often familiar with the scenario where a child is given a piece of creative writing to do, but is immediately overwhelmed with the enormity of the task. No wonder, they are always on the lookout for some help, often in form of an apt writing activity book.
Writing is Fun by Jeanne Perrett (published by Puffin books, illustrated by Sayan Mukherjee) takes a middle grader through the joys of creative writing in a gentle and guided fashion. But there are some things that set it apart from other books available today. Firstly, the author is a published writer and a teacher with extensive teaching experience. This brings in a distinguishing element. Secondly, the book is packed with several short but useful tips that truly make writing fun- which is what it should be!
You can tell from the preface itself, which is in the form of a poem. It encourages the reader-writer to be at ease and write just anywhere, anytime and anyhow! The book is then divided into short and compact chapters, each dealing with one specific type of writing. The first three chapters give the child a warm-up of sorts. The very first chapter encourages the child to explore the kinds of writing that he or she enjoys. Well, they literally put themselves into writers’ shoes by exploring a pen name for themselves. There are quite a few tips which work towards easing the child into the task of writing and developing a positive attitude towards it. (As all experienced teachers know, the hesitance to write is more of an attitude problem with kids rather than a skill issue!). Now that they are all set to write, the concepts of editing and creating characters follow in the next two chapters.
Then, the book delves right into varied types of creative writing: Writing a pirate story, ghost story, comic strip, play, fairy tale, historical fiction story, advertisement, description, science fiction story, dairy, detective story, poem, biography, autobiography, dialogue, song and presentation.
A gradual push…
One of the basic problems that many children face while writing is that they get overwhelmed with larger writing assignments. This writing activity book introduces each genre with some basic warm up activities, including some useful grammar activities, where the child writes only in sentences or words. Hence, the child gains confidence by the time he or she reaches the last activity which requires more detailed writing. For example, the chapter on writing ghost stories introduces a couple of activities on creating a setting and describing fear. It also talks about using the first conditional tense to say that if one thing happens, then something else will happen after that. By the time the child reaches the end of the chapter, the child is equipped with some good words, phrases, sentences and ideas that he or she could use.
The quirky illustrations by Sayan Mukherjee add to the enjoyment of reading the book and doing the activities. It would probably be a nice idea to do some colouring on them as well, as it would make using the book all the more fun! There is enough space in the book to complete all the activities. The book is intended for children above 8 years and could be used in a classroom setting or as a writing activity book at home.
Put briefly, here’s what we liked in the book: An Introduction to a wide variety of genres of creative writing, guided exercises that gently lead the child to write more challenging stuff and an appealing design and presentation. A writing activity book which actually makes it easy to write right!
Title: Writing is Fun
Author: Jeanne Perrett
Illustrator: Sayan Mukherjee
Publisher: Puffin books
Genre: Non-fiction, Activity
Age group: 8 +