Stories with a View: Narrative Inspirations, Selected Poetry and Paintings by Margot Davidson
2004, Hillside Education, 79 pages, spiralbound
I must admit a bias. Because I have used the method suggested in Stories with a View for years with my own children, I highly recommend this resource. Why? It works! By observing and interacting with pictures and poetry, young writers are inspired to write interesting fiction.
In fact, Mrs. Davidson makes this method even easier to implement by offering discussion questions and suggested "story starters" to prompt the young writer. For example, with A Restful Tune (a painting about a shepherd boy playing a reed pipe) the questions include:
Describe where this scene takes place?
Who is the boy?
What time of day do you think it is?
What are the sheep doing while the dogs rest?
In addition to these thought provoking questions, younger children might also want to name the people and animals in the picture to make it more personal, which the author does in the "story starters." The "story starters" are great. Even the most reluctant writer will be provoked into action. If you want additional questions to stimulate the writing process, just keep in mind the question words: who, what, where, when and why and apply them to each picture or poem.
Paging through the various pictures, even the child most adverse to pen and paper should have something to say about these paintings. Some of them are truly amusing. In "The Mouse" by Giacomo Favretto, you can just imagine the young women squealing on the chairs at the thought of the mouse scurrying across the floor as the little boy tries to capture it in the corner.
Since younger children, preschool and kindergarten age, have very fertile imaginations, they too could use this resource, having the child dictate the story aloud. 79 pages might not seem like a lot of material at first, but as anyone who spends time writing knows, the writing process takes time and may drafts to create a polished final copy. There is more than enough material here to inspire the budding writer. Additionally, the suggestions and principles outlined here can be applied to stories, poems and paintings elsewhere too.
The Guide to Stories with a View includes an overview for the teacher, suggestions for how to incorporate this writing program into your language arts program, and directions on how to implement the program; including specific dialogue to guide and motivate the student through the writing process to a story that the student will be proud to keep in a "writing portfolio." If you have a reluctant writer, several story starters have been included in the guide for each painting or poetry selection. Your own writer may want to add some new ones to the list.
With my own children, I have mostly used pictures and picture books to stimulate them to write their own stories. Using poetry now adds another whole new dimension to draw on. With this resource, I don't have to look for paintings or poetry to inspire my children; I have it all in one place with questions to prime the writing pump. These attractive, full-color paintings and beautiful poems will stimulate great thoughts and interesting stories in even the most writing resistant child. You will be surprised by the results.
Donated by Hillside Education
Reviewed by Elizabeth Yank
See our Love2learn page on this book here
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