My mentor teacher and I are working hard to help the children in our classroom understand that even if their handwriting isn't the best or they don't know how to spell every (or any) words, they can still be a writer. It is important to us that they see themselves as writers. We have worked on many different types of writing already including letters, invitations (see open house post), books, lists, and notes.
One of my favorite activities so far centered around the children's book Library Mouse. For those of you who have never read Library Mouse it is a story of a mouse, Sam, who lives inside of the library. Sam loves the library and decides that he wants to be an author. Sam writes "mouse size" books and after the library closes each night he puts his books out on the shelves. The librarian and children in the library LOVE his books! They desperately want to meet the "mystery" author and post an invitation to the author to join them in the library. Sam doesn't know what to do...He is sure that they would not accept a mouse in the library. I am sorry to give away the ending, but Sam decides to help the children realize they can be authors just like him. He works all night making a stack of mouse size books. Then, he cuts a hole in a box that says "meet the author" and sticks a mirror inside of the box. When the children look in to meet the author, they see themselves!
We read the book on day one of the lesson and talked about how everyone, even kids, can be writers. The next day we created blank mouse size books (a piece of copy paper cut into fourths and stapled like a book). We set the books next to a shoe box that said "Meet the Author". One by one the children opened up the box and saw themselves! We sent them back to their seats to create their books. For this activity they were allowed to write about anything they wanted--just like Sam did. We had been talking a lot about imagination and the children came up with some great book ideas!
This activity went really well. Even the children who are hesitant writers loved making mouse size books. I think it was a little less intimidating to them because there was not a huge page to fill. Some of the children added as many as 4 extra pages! The children kept their books to share with their parents at open house later in the week. One child in our class was so excited about Library Mouse that she went to the library and found the newest Library Mouse book to share with the class!
Here is a link to find out more about Library Mouse and the author, Daniel Kirk's other books!