Ironically, we stopped in The Boulder Bookstore and spent a bit of time wandering the store. If you've never been, you should put it on your bookstore bucket list. It's a superb independent. It's cozy. It's in the middle of the Pearl Street Mall (which means great restaurants are only a few doors away). It's a great place to spend some time in the afternoon with your college-bound son (or daughter). I loved as we walked in and Jens said, "Dad, I need a new book. What should I read?" (that's a subject for another blog entry).
My choice today was Guy-Write: What Every Guy Writer Needs to Know by Ralph Fletcher (which was shelved in the "activity" book section... I guess even The Boulder Bookstore gets it wrong periodically). I just saw Ralph last week at the All-Write Conference in Warsaw, Indiana. I spent some time with him and Katie Ray by the pool talking about reading, writing, learning, and life. It was a great evening. I wish I had known the specifics of his "activity" book at the time so we could have weaved it into the conversation. Trust me, it was definitely shelved in the wrong section... it's not an activity book. This book should be out front for every child (especially those middle grade/middle school boys) to get their hands on... it's that good!
In Guy-Write, Ralph shares a special gift with his readers. The gift of wisedom. The gift of risk-taking. The gift of passion. The gift of words. The gift of saying, "Boys... it's okay... write!" As I write this blog, I'm sitting in Starbucks after finishing this grand read. I loved it! What a gift.
As I read, I was reminded of my student Isaiah who once said, "How does he do it? I feel like Ralph Fletcher is talking to me. Just to me!" I felt the "boy writer" in me twinge with a little bit of rebellion, a little bit of challenge, and a little bit of "Gross!" Ralph's sense of humor shines through each page as he talks to "us boys" about how to improve our writing life. He's able to bridge the gap between being a "writer at home" and a "writer at school." He writes about the contexts in which we need to nudge boy writers to work. He adds ammunition to every boy's arsenal of what it means to be a writer!
As an added bonus, he includes interviews with five "boy" writers. I want Sam to read the section about "Sports Writing" and the interview with Robert Lipsyte. I want Jacob to read "Draw First and Write Later" and the interview with Jarrett Krosoczka. I want Sebastian to read "Freaky Stories" and the interview with Robert San Souci. I want Christopher to read "Riding the Vomit Comet" and the interview with Jon Scieszka. I want Zachary to read "Superheroes and Fantasy" and the interview with Greg Trine. I want all the boys I've taught for the past 26 years to read Ralph's words. And, I want all the teachers I teach with to read them as well. In fact, I challenge you all to read it! Every boy writer needs Ralph Fletcher as their mentor and advocate! (By the way, I just emailed all the parents of boys I've had for the past three years and recommended they run to the bookstore for this one).
I wish I had read it BEFORE I met with Ralph a few weeks ago. I can't wait for my 18-year-old college-bound English major to read it. I can't wait to read it more closely. Thanks Ralph, for another gem. Our lives are all the richer for it.
- - - - - - - -*Which, by the way, includes Beginning Italian. Italian? Does he remember his sister (the senior) works in that department? Ciao`
If you want to read another great blog about this book, go to A Year of Reading.