How Do You Get Ideas for Books?
At my parent-teacher conference for my 2nd grader, I looked over his writing assignment that focuses on small moments or seeds. The watermelon is the big idea, in this case it was my son’s soccer game. The watermelon slice is a smaller section, and the seed is a small event. My son talked to his teacher to whittle down his story idea to the seed of the moment he scored a goal.
The story was just about 3/4 of a page with very large lines and he dutifully circled the words he thought were misspelled, missing only a few. The idea of story seeds — small moments in time that form the base of the narrative is a wonderful way to help kids when they craft a story.
I didn’t realize it helps all kinds of authors until I saw Suzy Kline present to kids how she gets her story ideas. As a teacher for many years, her characters are kids she knew and taught. (What fun to be a student that ended up in her book!). As for her book ideas, she advises everyone to carry a small notebook to jot down story seeds. She demonstrates that story seeds can be a single word or just a few words …
A Notebook For Story Ideas Turns Kids into Writers
Suzy Kine writes the well-known Horrible Harry series as well as the Herbie Jones series. She had an impressive display of books and props!
As she talked and brought out props, item by item, each had been a story seed that she had jotted down in her notebook that transformed into one of her books!
The purple hanger was a hanger she brought in from home to her classroom when one of the original wooden hangers original to the school broke. It turned out that everyone wanted to use the purple hanger! This conflict became … Horrible Harry and the Purple Hanger. And the story seed: purple hanger!
A yellow tubular scarf that doubled as a dress fascinated her when someone demonstrated its many merits to her. Story seed: yellow scarf! And this became a book as well!
A hat with a name embroidered on it was another seed of a story.
This tube made of PVC pipes was NOT a story seed. Instead, she uses it as a kind of telephone to read her book draft out loud to herself. If her story doesn’t work as a read aloud, she will make more revisions. This handy tool can be a DIY project for a child and parent!
This necklace was handmade by a student and inspired a Horrible Harry book.
Did you know Suzy Kline’s books are translated into different languages including Korean?!
Teachers and librarians turned authors are some of my very favorite children’s authors. Sharon Creech! Beverly Cleary! And now, Suzy Kline! Hooray for teachers who continue to teach and inspire even as they embark on their second careers as authors! You can take a teacher out of school, but she’ll always find a way to reach a student’s heart!
p.s. I’m told that kids after hearing Suzy Kline speak have returned home insisting on notebooks that fit in their pockets.