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School Library Journal: "Highly recommended"

HURTADO, AnnMarie. 36 Workshops To Get Kids Writing: From Aliens to Zebras. 240p. appendix. illus. index. notes. ALA. Mar. 2018. pap. $49. ISBN 9780838916483.


As libraries strive to create lifelong readers, they may be overlooking a valuable element. Hurtado urges them to pair reading with writing, asserting that “creative writing is a child-driven activity that motivates [students] to learn how to write and makes them better readers.” To simplify the process, the author presents 36 “writing parties” revolving around picture books. She includes Common Core State Standards, a “PR Blurb” that discusses each lesson’s goals and summarizes the book being used, and all handouts needed. The lessons are blocked into segments ranging from five to 30 minutes, for a total of 60 to 90 minutes. The featured titles are grouped thematically into sections such as “Fractured Fairy Tales,” “Animal Muses,” and “The Plot Thickens.” Making a convincing case for including writing in children’s programing, this well-organized work covers all the necessary components to implement these lessons. A chapter on “Books To Feed the Young Author’s Spirit” and two appendixes—one explaining how to make blank books and one with story elements organizers—round out the volume. VERDICT Highly recommended for public and school librarians, who will confidently be able to infuse writing into children’s programs.–Laura Fields Eason, Parker Bennett Curry Elementary School, Bowling Green, KY

I recently did an interview with Rob Christopher of ALA Editions, discussing my research on how children learn to read through writing, the impact my workshops had on kids at my own library, the vital importance of humor, and why you should encourage kids to write even before they can spell! Check out the interview and then hop over to the ALA Store where you can download a sample of the book completely free.



Creative writing encourages imaginations to take flight, and when adults use the right approach, building literacy skills becomes a form of play that gets kids excited to create their own stories.


Packed with ready-to-use lesson plans designed for kindergarten- and early elementary-aged children, this book will help librarians add creative writing activities to more traditional storytime initiatives and school librarians enrich English Language Arts lessons.


Hurtado’s resource provides

  • an entire year’s worth of weekly lesson plans, adaptable as needed, that include instructions, handouts, and everything needed to plan and prepare;

  • recommended read-alouds for each lesson plan;

  • ideas and activities scaffolded for different ability levels;

  • tips for using humor and silliness to grab kids’ attention and keep them engaged;

  • information on how creative writing dovetails with Common Core standards, emphasizing skills and critical thinking over rote learning; and

  • additional quality read-aloud picture books that can be used as inspiration to create new lessons.

This book will serve as a handy lesson/program planning tool for any children’s or school librarian interested in exploring new ideas to teach creative writing and higher literacy.

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