Story Starters: Helping Children Write Like They’ve Never Written Before by Karen Andreola
Story Starters provides intriguing, exciting story beginnings as story writing prompts, but it goes well beyond this original purpose and acts as a wonderful general writing guide, encouraging and supporting the mom that approaches language arts using Charlotte Mason’s methods such as narration. It’s a fantastic resource that we’ve been enjoying, so I wanted to take a minute to review it since I know you’re all beginning to think about next year! 🙂
The bulk of the book is built around lovely stories that have been started by Karen Andreola. The well written and engaging stories have been left incomplete – the ending is left up to your child! These are not your average stale, “tell me about your summer vacation” writing prompts! Karen Andreola provides engaging, exciting narratives that enter the imagination and invite an eager and equally imaginative response! The stories, timeless and classic in their style, can be enjoyed and completed by any age child. I have been reading one story to all my children each week – my 6 year old orally narrates an ending to me, my 5th grader is just beginning to write and eagerly anticipates the time when he can write his endings, and my 9th grader writes interesting and exciting conclusions – all to the same story starter.
Each story is accompanied by a charming (not to be mistaken for “girly”) vintage black and white image (these are also peppered throughout the book). These add to the simple delight of this book which is not jarring in substance or appearance, but rather a delight and so easy and straightforward to use! Read aloud. Find yourself captivated, engaged, excited. Finish the story – gladly! The stories are fascinating, captivating and well written. I find a variety of stories to choose from that satisfy both boys and girls.
If these story starters were all the book contained, it would be a wonderful supplement and resource in itself, but Karen Andreola goes further and offers a wealth of additional information to round out this resource, adding to its value! I wanted to list the contents for you to consider:
Exciting Writing – Karen’s essay which can be read at her site.
A Flexible Resource
Optional Teaching Tools
What Are the Symbols?
How to use the Story Starters
Four Methods – this section is very valuable to those of you hoping to use this resource across a span of ages, detailing the different methods this book can be used from your youngest, non-writer up through your high schooler.
A Word About Internal Motivation and Grading – though grading is discouraged for grades below 8th grade, a simple rubric is provided to assess your high school student’s writing.
What is the Value of the Learning Activity?
Three Kinds of Narrators
Description of a Setting
Character Description – Physical Appearance
Character Description – Personality
A Lesson of Review for Additional Challenge
Introduction to Just Pictures
A Lesson on the Basic Elements of a Story – wonderful for introducing the parts of a story to a student ready to progress and grow their writing skills.
Narration: Tapping into the Talking Resource – (also available to read at Karen’s site) This is a wonderful and simply written explanation of the method of narration. For those of you that have children that find it challenging to narrate, or need help in inviting a narration, the wonderful *WAYS OF INCORPORATING NARRATION WITH NARRATION REQUESTS* section lists a number of practical examples for inviting narrations. I enjoy so much reading the *why* of a method, but the practical examples help me fit the rubber to the road! This is a valuable section!
Index of Literary Terms and Techniques – index of terms relevant to the stories in the book – very helpful!
About Dean and Karen Andreola
This non-consumable book is a treasure of support, encouragement as well as practical tools for budding writers (and the moms that love them!) Its value is increased since it can be used in the family across ages and grades! Its content and suggestions are natural and comfortably fit into the day. This is a supplement you could use 5 minutes after opening the cover, but do grab your cup of tea and sit down with the rest of the book for an afternoon. It will leave you refreshed and encouraged as you consider what is often an intimidating idea – teaching writing. Allow writing to flow naturally from beautiful, rich literature and authors inspired to convey their ideas through living books! And, consider this for your shelves next year! It has been a richly rewarding book for our family!
I leave you with some additional reading and reviews for Story Starters by Karen Andreola:
- Karen describes her book at Homeschool Highlights
- There is a nice review at The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
- Cathy Duffy reviews the book at her site