Lessons learned, life paths paved

This past week, a friend mentioned diagramming sentences in a blog post and in a Facebook comment. It brought back fond memories. How I loved deconstructing sentences and labeling their parts.

It got me thinking about Miss Baronian’s English class in junior high, and Mr. Joy’s, Mrs. Martin’s, and Mr. Cass’s English classes in high school. Oh, how I loved those teachers and all they could load on me. More. More. Give me more.

And then I thought farther back – to that day in grammar school when I first learned about paragraphs. I actually remember being amazed. I probably sat there in my little chair with big eyes and dropped jaw. I could hardly wait to break apart a body of text into paragraphs.

And this brings me to a conversation I had with a friend earlier this week. She’s worried about her son who’s beginning to think about college and life pursuits. He seems, to her, directionless.

I don’t think I helped her much that evening, but now that I’ve been thinking about my introduction-to-paragraphs experience, I’d ask her to try to remember what little, mundane, everyday things made his eyes sparkle or his voice sing. If my teacher had truly looked at me the day she taught her paragraph lesson, she would have known right then and there, I would be a writer.

And a reader. Here are my favorites of the picture books I read in January:

  • HAVE YOU SEEN MY NEW BLUE SOCKS by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier, 2013, Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • LET’S SING A LULLABY WITH THE BRAVE COWBOY by Jan Thomas, 2012, Beach Lane Books (Simon & Schuster)
  • WHEN LIONS ROAR by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Chris Raschka, 2013, Orchard Books (Scholastic)

P.S. The link above will take you to KidLit 411, a new website created by Elaine Kiely Kearns (with help from others) for kidlit writers. It’s almost cooler than diagramming sentences and making paragraphs.

Another P.S. If you write picture books, you may want to check out the ultra cool 12×12 Picture Book Challenge. If you want to be part of this phenomenal community — with access to agents, a sparkly new forum, and loads of inspiration, information, and support — you need to register by February 28. After that, membership is closed, and you’ll be pounding on the door until next January. That will hurt.

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Lessons learned, life paths paved

  1. Thanks for mentioning KidLit411! Elaine is such a genius for conceiving the site. 🙂

    I enjoyed diagramming sentences too though maybe not with the same intensity as you. LOL!

  2. Hi Carol, Great post. Thanks for giving Kidlit411 a shout out. I love how the community of writers are all letting our inner nerds out. I never loved diagramming sentences but I do remember drawing and illustrating my own stories from a very young age.

  3. Hi Carol! I bet that teacher did know you would be a writer! Thanks for the kidlit411 shout out! You’re the best! XO 🙂

  4. What a great post! Reading and spelling were what really did it for me in school. Loved them both.

    Kidlit 411 and 12×12 are both fantastic. Glad you posted about them!

  5. I love how one seemingly innocuous fact – a fellow human loved diagramming sentences as a child – can turn into a treatise about life. Great post Carol!

  6. I love how one seemingly innocuous fact – a fellow human loved diagramming sentences as a child – can become a treatise on life. Great post Carol!

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