How do we teach our kids to write like their – and our – favourite authors? We can start by playing with some of the literary techniques successful writers use. One example is the opening hook.
C(10) and I learned about opening hooks a few years ago from The Arrow (a Brave Writer language arts program for 8 to 11 year olds).
I thought it might be fun to revisit opening hooks, this time involving J(9).
We each brought to the table a pile of our favourite books. I quickly typed and printed a table listing the book titles.
What we did
We took turns reading the first few lines of our chosen books. After each opening we discussed how effective it was in drawing us in to want to read more. I like that there are no right answers in this exercise – a nine-year-old’s opinion is as valid as an adult’s.
What kind of books can you use?
I didn’t impose any rules about the type of books the children brought to the table. J(9) listens to lots of good quality audiobooks, but for actual print reading he likes series like Tom Gates and Wimpy Kid. (I’m just happy that he is reading and enjoying books. I know that eventually his visual reading skills will catch up.) Interestingly, we all gave J(9)’s “The Diary of Dennis the Menace” ten out of ten for its opening hook – the only book which received a perfect score from us all:
“This is the WORST day in the history of the universe ever … EVER!!! It’s so horrible I don’t think I can even write it down.”
J(9)’s other choices also scored highly. C(10) and I speculated later about how important it is that books for emerging boy readers have effective opening hooks!
Writing our own opening hooks
Next, we all wrote a few of our own opening hooks. Here’s one of C(10)’s:
“Alexander was falling. The wind tore at his hair and clothes and suddenly with a sickening thump he crashed to the ground.”
We played a verbal game of “opening hooks” later, on our dog walk. One person would make up a hook and then everyone took turns to continue the tale. We ended up with some very silly stories!
How does your favourite book begin?
More Brave Writer-inspired language arts posts
I’m appreciatively linking up here:
The Hip Homeschool Hop – Hip Homeschool Moms
The Home Ed Link Up – Adventures in Homeschool
Finishing Strong #35 – Education Possible
Collage Friday – Homegrown Learners
Weekly Wrap-Up – Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers