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authentic writing

My 7 year old recently announced that she’s “pretty much over writing stories,” at least at home. Thankfully though, she has a renewed interest in writing when there is a real purpose behind the task.

Her eulogy for Lucky, her sister’s gerbil who passed away this week, was touching in that she worked to include some favorite Lucky memories. She’s still empowered by a petition she wrote about the potential closing of our local library. And she’s happily keeping a journal chronicling her efforts to stop sucking her thumb.

These types of authentic writing activities are a nice contrast to the narrative story writing that frequently happens at school. Researchers who study “real” writing affirm that students given “real” purposes for reading and writing beyond classroom assignments, and for “real” audiences beyond a teacher, made significant progress in both reading and writing.

The possibilities for authentic writing are endless. Some of the ways we’ve integrated writing into our family include becoming pen pals with my friend’s daughter who lives in Oregon and a travel journal that we started a few years ago. With each trip, we add a few pages, staple in some brochures and the girls write away. Those journals have been a great way to remember some of the fun details of trips that would undoubtedly be lost as our memories fade.

Other ideas for authentic writing include:

Having your child write restaurant reviews. These might be handy for those evenings when everyone is asking, “Where should we go for dinner?”

Having your child write the many reminder notes we all need. “Don’t forget your library books!” “Do you have your permission slip?”

Having your child create their daily job chart, with explanations for expected daily tasks and things they can do to earn extra money. That’s what we’ll be working on this week!

About the Author

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Publication Date
April 15, 2010

Related Topics

Struggling Readers, Writing