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Friday, August 26, 2011

A my name is Andrew, written by Mary McManus Burke and illustrated by Donna Ingemanson. All About Kids Publishing, 2003. $18.95 ages 5 and up

"My name is Margarita and I live in Miami. One misty Monday morning during the month of May, Mama made a mountain of marvelous mango muffins for Miguel and me. Mr. Mendoza, our mild-mannered mailman, managed to arrive at mid-morning just in time for Mama's memorable munchies."

I'm busy looking for books that concern names, and also first days at school. In my reading I learned about this book and quickly ordered it. I think it serves as a mentor text for young writers, just as Joe's alphabiography serves the same purpose for middle grade writers. I think it could be a lot of fun for a class book, as it would be done and published in quick time.

It could be about the special places found in your city, town or even neighborhood. It will help to teach a listing strategy for young writers and afford them words that might be used when they set about doing their name's letter. Starting with one gives practice, before trying more than that. It also helps to work on alliteration which they will find authors using in the books they read.

It's a bit of an adventure, and a new take on the alphabet. It might even be a way to start the year, with each new student taking their first name's letter and telling something about themselves while using as many words that begin with their letter as they can. Of course, it won't be perfect, and some letters will have to be assigned but it could be a lot of fun for an early guided writing task.

The language chosen can be silly, or not:

"My name is Enrica & I live in El Paso. I enjoy encouraging my enthusiastic elephant, Esperanza, to engage in energetic, exhilarating exercise early each morning at eight. Esperanza has an endless amount of endurance. She's an eyeful in her elaborately and exquisitely embroidered exercise outfits, and her engraved enamel earrings."

So, start making your own lists and see what you can do with your name, or your city, state or province. The possibilities are endless.  Then, encourage your kids or your students to have a go, too. It could be a lot of fun!

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