36 Workshops to Get Kids Writing: From Aliens to Zebras. By AnnMarie Hurtado. Chicago: ALA, 2018. 240 p. Paper $49.00 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1648-3).

Many children’s librarians know that the five practices of Every Child Ready to Read, one of which is writing, help foster reading and improve literacy skills. The practice of writing also aligns with Common Core Standards at most grade levels. But often, libraries don’t include writing—or at least structured writing—in their program offerings. The author of this book, a youth services librarian, introduces compelling ideas and research evidence for why writing is so important. This introduction leads into the “hows” of presenting writing to children at the library.

Each chapter is laid out like a class plan with a clear presentation and includes graphics, worksheets, lists, and preparation tips to help librarians create a writing program for various ages. The author also notes the Common Core goals being met by each lesson. Each chapter is paired with a book suggestion—including up-to-date picture books, poetry, and nonfiction—so librarians can read the story with the children and then encourage them to complete the accompanying exercises. Some exercises allow children the opportunity and freedom to write their own stories; others focus on silly words, adjectives, readers’ theater, linguistics, and heroes vs. villains. Want to save a penguin from distress? Teach an animal how to protect itself against humans? Create unlikely heroes? All of these scenarios are contained in this outstanding guide to hosting writing programs that will not only be fun but effective as well.

This book’s suggestions, plans, and worksheets are thorough enough that even librarians nervous about their own writing skills will be able to present an effective program by pairing the content from the book with their own enthusiasm and leadership. This is a resource that librarians dedicated to offering that all-important writing practice will find themselves using on a regular basis.—Sharon Verbeten, Youth Services Librarian, Brown County Library, Green Bay, Wisconsin


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