I visit the library every day, dropping off a stack of well read books and replacing it with a stack of books I can’t wait to read. Every day my 6 and 8 year olds eye the books with delight. “Can we read them now?”
As a 2016 Cybils panelist, I have the privilege of reading every nominated book and choosing my favorites based on literary merit and kid appeal. Reading hundreds of books within 2 months reminds why reading improves writing. (Interested in reading Cybils nominated books? Go here for the full list of picture books and board books).
- Reading helps you recognize what resonates. When I read books for the Cybils award, I pay special attention to what makes a book resonate. Is it word choice? Plot? Illustrations? Characters? Theme? Does something else make this book stand out? If a book is stellar, I pay extra-special attention to how all the elements come together. Reading helps me identify and use those elements in my own stories.
- Reading helps you realize what doesn’t work. Not all Cybils nominated books are stellar. In fact, many of them leave me wanting. Reading books that don’t make you want to shout “Hooray!” or “I wish I’d thought of that!” are also powerful teaching tools. I ask myself: Why doesn’t this work for me? Recognizing what I don’t like in a book helps me to avoid these pitfalls in my own stories.
- Reading elicits ideas and creativity. Reading someone else’s words and ideas is an incredible way to encourage our own creative juices. Many of the most successful books are based on someone else’s ideas. Fractured fairy tales like Little Red Gliding Hood, and The Three Ninja Pigs, are some of my favorite reads. They tell a story we think we know, and turn it upside down in a delightful way.
What books have improved your writing?
I just read several how-to picture books and was amazed at their differences and similarities. Then I wrote one of my own!
I just finished reading A POEM FOR PETER, by Andrea Davis Pinkney…one of the books in my large pile from the library. I had goosebumps reading it. The language is amazing. The story is inspiring. It makes me want to be a better writer. Thanks for this post, Kirsti.
Thanks for the shout out to Little Red, Kirsti!
Great reminder of why I need to keep on reading those books, hauling bags back and forth from the library! I feel much more in tune with writing when I am able to read tons (literally, it feels like) of picture books. Thanks, Kristi!
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I do too! That’s why we do Reading for Research!