When searching for mentor texts that are not yet available at the library, I usually end up spending an easy two hours buried under a pile of books at the book store. But as I entered the store last week, I heard the dreaded announcement: “Attention customers! Our store will be closing in fifteen minutes. Please select your purchases and make your way to the registers.” Drat! There would definitely not be enough time to research properly. Still, I was proud of myself for actually getting to the book store.
Mentor text research takes time and commitment. When I founded the Reading for Research Month challenge, I wasn’t doing it for myself. My hope was that others would also benefit from utilizing picture books as mentor texts. As the founder and co-coordinator, it doesn’t leave a lot of time for me to participate in my own challenge. But, as we approach the 4th annual challenge in March 2018, it’s my chance to recreate a research habit, too. Together with my partner, Kirsti Call, we hope you will commit with us in 2018.
Behind the picture book recommendations are varied perspectives. It’s what our industry is made of: subjectivity. What one professional hails as genius, another may label as slight. I’m challenging you to gather perspectives. It’s what you do every time you read a new blog post. It’s what you do when you gather feedback from critiques. It’s what you do when you take a new writing class, read a craft book, or read aloud to an audience. It’s our job to deeply consider perspectives as we work to find our own personal style.
Our inner editors can be defensive, biased, and blind. While it is important to listen to ourselves, discussing content and rereading books are two things that help us limit our tunnel vision. In today’s busy times, most of us read a book one time and immediately form our opinions. Maybe we rate it on a scale of 1-5 and leave it at that. But how does that really help us grow? Taking the time to reread is important. Upon a second read, take time to separate craft elements and notice things. During consequent reads, focus on one element at a time. How does an author present voice? Is that mirrored through the characters? The dialogue? The language? The setting? Learn about voice through each of these elements. Each time you reread, move on to a new element.
And then! We have the ability to share our perspectives with others. We ‘mustache’ questions. Sharing through discussion does a world of good.
Whether it’s a mentor text or a manuscript of our own, chances are that you’ll discover things you didn’t notice before. Open your new year with a heart and mind for different perspectives.
We’ve been busy lining up the new team of ReFoReMo presenters and are excited to reveal them to you in the new year. We hope you’ll dig up new perspectives with us!
How do you approach your reread process?