Ten writers for children. All with something to say.

2/12/10

The Source as a Resource

For the middle-grade series I am working on, my favorite resource is going to schools and talking to students. They are pleased to be asked and they have interesting ideas and opinions. I often ask a series of questions and have them write down their answers anonymously. Here's a sample from sixth graders in New Jersey to the question of what adults don't understand about what it's like to be in sixth grade.

1. Lots of drama and gossip.
2. We get tons of homework.
3. It's easy to get detention.
4. Getting detention once isn't a huge deal.
5. We're older now, don't treat us like babies.
6. Some kids swear A LOT.
7. Some teachers play favorites with students.
8. Some teachers don't like kids.
9. Kids know more than adults think they know.

Last fall, I asked sixth graders to write down answers to some questions about the first day of middle school. At the end one boy handed me a tiny folded up piece of paper. I thanked him and opened it up in the hall. It said, "Most people treat you like less when you're a kid."

Over and over I go to the source, the people I am writing about and they provide details, concerns, and insights that make my stories better.

5 comments:

Stephanie said...

Those are great thoughts, what a super resource. Oh, and I wanted to tell you it looks like I'm going to have a signing at the Eau Claire Borders Saturday March 27th. I'm in WI to take my daughter to a college thing and managed to work that in too. So if you happen to be visiting EC that weekend...

Lauren said...

John, I have always been inspired by the way you converse and work with students- I also love how true and real your school stories read. I love the answers. What are some of your questions?
(Stephanie, I am not certain what I will be doing on the 27th, but if I am anywhere near EC, I will come by to meet you!)

Christy said...

Great cover--really eye-catching. I'm sure your readers must feel how much you value and respect them. Listening is key. I love the image of the boy in the hall slipping you the little piece of paper with the big truth.

Edie said...

John,
This is a great reminder that we, as authors for children, need to remember that the children themselves are the best sources.

David LaRochelle said...

Those kids' observations all ring true...especially #9, that kids know more than adults think.