Tag Archives: Writers Notebooks


I am so lucky that I have a dedicated notebooker as a dear friend. Michelle Haseltine has been notebooking since 1982.  She is on her 83rd notebook!! I am so inspired by her dedication to “showing up to the page” every day.  Now she is even more inspiring; she has created a group called #100DaysofNotebooking that has members from around the world! The idea is to commit to notebooking for 100 days-whatever you want to put on a page is PERFECT.

Michelle says, Notebooking is about sharing your story. Show up to the page every day. Focus on that and soon you will have your story on the page. There is no right/wrong way to notebook. Show up! We invite you to join us into our community for support and encouragement!

My notebook entry today was based on the variety of formats and ideas I’ve read


through in the past several days-and I know I did not capture all of them.  For anyone who thinks they can’t notebook or wouldn’t know what to write about, you’ll find so many ideas and inspiration from this group.

You can spend as much or as little time as you want writing each day. You can choose to share, or not to share. If you are on  Twitter, just use the hashtag #100DaysofNotebooking to see some examples.

Sure, we are a few days into the new year, but don’t let that stop you from giving it a GO. Once you start writing each day, you will experience the world around you in new ways. You’ll be more present and aware-you’ll notice more because you are open to ideas that you can notebook. Being a writer changes the way you see and experience the world.

What are the rules?

1.Show up to the page.

That’s it. Just turn a page each day and put pen to paper. See what comes out. Discover your thinking.


As a bonus, Michelle has also created a Spotify playlist of songs to inspire ideas and creativity. Seems like each day this group keeps growing with inspiring support. Check it out-I don’t think you’ll regret it! If you want to join the private Facebook page you can request permission here: 100 Days of Notebooking Facebook Group Hope to see you there!


One More Off My TBR Stack

What it isWHAT IT IS by Lynda Barry

My first book of 2020 and I think this one is going to change my life! It fits so well with my goals for notebooking as well. Lynda asks some big existential questions and playfully writes and draws some responses that invite even more questions that only the reader can answer for themself. She frames thoughts about writing in unique ways; “Handwriting is an image left by a living being in motion-it cannot be duplicated in time or space.” or “We are practicing a physical activity (writing)with a state of mind.” If you’ve ever wanted to keep a notebook of thoughts, wondering, doodles, or stories I encourage you to add this book to your collection. It’s been around since 2008 and I’m surprised it hadn’t found me yet.

Delicious Words

Have you ever been reading along in a book and suddenly the words wake you out of your reading trance? The precise selection, the unique arrangement, or the magnitude of their meaning dawns on you as pure delicious reading. And once you are awakened to their presence you hunger for more-then unsurprisingly you find more. You just needed to be stirred from your suspended animation.

I’ve decided I want to start collecting these delicious words so that I can go back and savor their flavor, but also to share them with others to give them a sample taste. Last week I started a hashtag on Twitter #DeliciousWords to begin collecting lines that caused me to pause and reread, to ponder the author’s process at that moment in selecting just the right words to convey their thoughts so beautifully.  Here are a few from this week’s reading:

SWEEP by Jonathan Auxier
IN YOUR SHOES by Donna Gephart


And then Friday I attended a Heinemann workshop with Penny Kittle and Linda Rief in which they shared their writer/reader notebooks with us. I was totally mesmerized at the way Penny crafted “Beautiful Words” entries into her notebooks. This took #DeliciousWords to a whole new level for me! Now I want to collect even more deliciousness and preserve them in a notebook. Check out some examples she shared (used with permission):IMG_0706IMG_0708So if you are looking for ways to revitalize your writer/reader notebooks, literally take a page from Penny and Linda. They weave the look of Found Poems with the skill of noticing authors’ craft with these beautiful entries. If these creations of art are too intimidating, just start collecting with photos, copying lines, or tweeting out the #DeliciousWords you find.  Share what you savor knowing no two readers have the exact same tastes, variety is the spice of life!

What’s On My Book Radar?

Screen Shot 2018-12-16 at 8.36.19 AMSWEEP: THE STORY OF A GIRL AND HER MONSTER by Jonathan Auxier

Every once in awhile you read a book that you simultaneously can’t put down and yet want to it to stay immersed in that world and linger on-SWEEP is one of those books. Jonathan Auxier takes us to the world of child chimney climbers in Victorian London, who are typically indentured servants trapped in a life of cruel and dangerous work. Society turns it’s face away from the horrible child labor because their fear of fire is greater. We meet Nan who was raised by the Sweep, but when he mysteriously disappears she is forced into the servitude of Wilkie Crudd-a Fagin-like master who works his children to the brink of death. When Nan is nearly burned alive in a chimney she wakes to find herself in the care of a mysterious creature. She befriends “Charlie” and learns that he is a Golem sent by the Sweep to protect her. But in this hard life they struggle to save each other and the children that no one cares for. Beautifully told with so many lines I needed to write down to remember. Do yourself a favor and get a copy of this book-a perfect Dickensian read for the holidays!

Start the Year Off Write

September is the planting season for writing!

All month I have been encouraging teachers to set up writers’ notebooks, to offer quickwrite opportunities, and immerse themselves in a variety of writing activities.  These pieces of writing will be the seeds from which ideas, stories, and topics will germinate and grow.

In our district we offer a writing prompt to all of our K-6 students to help us establish a baseline of writing strengths and needs for our students.  It lets us get to know how they approach writing and what they bring to their writing from previous years.  It is tough to generate a prompt that will inspire and not stifle, engage and not turn off, AND is appropriate for 5 year olds as well as .  Rather than having a single prompt, we generated several options.  We chose a few videos to watch to inspire ideas




We offered two different pictures for our K-2 students and asked them to write a story that goes with one of these.



We offered two Shel Silverstein poems for our 3rd-6th grade students, asking them to write a story inspired by one of them.

poetry-by-shel-silverstein-7-638 silverstein.1

And finally we offered them the greatest choice of all-an original idea of their own. We wanted to send the message to our students that ideas come from so many places-what we read or see or touch can be an inspiration for writing. So far the writing pieces have been thoroughly entertaining and enlightening!

Some writers’ notebooks are filling with dozens of seeds waiting for the gentle watering that will come with daily mini-lessons, writing conferences, and revisions. These early sprouts are so fun to look back on at the end of year “harvest” to contemplate the almost-miraculous growth.

I hope that you are all off to a wonderful school year, and busy planting those seeds each day.  If you need some inspiration for launching writers’ notebooks or nurturing those tender shoots, head on over to my friends’ blog The Two Writing Teachers. There are actually more than two amazing teachers who contribute to this blog: Stacey Shubitz, Anna Gratz Cockerille, Betsy Hubbard, Beth Moore, Dana Murphy, Tara Smith, Deb Frazier, and Kathleen Sokolowski have loads of ideas and support to keep your writing workshop engaging and fresh throughout the school year.

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 10.42.11 AM

I LOVE this writing prompt idea to help us get to know our students.  Writing is such a personal journey-creating trusting relationships will be key to growing strong writers. What are 5 Things You Want Your Teacher to Know:

What’s On My Book Radar?

The Global Read Aloud is right around the corner (October 5).  I thought this month would be a great time to read some of this year’s selections.


This week I read CHOPSTICKS and FISH


Author Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrator Scott Magoon created a fun story about two chopstick friends who must face a challenging time of trying things without each other. If you are trying to encourage independence with young kids, this would be a great text to start that conversation.

Fish: A Novel

A middle grade novel of bravery and perseverance! When a boys relief worker family must flee a war torn country a young boy rescues a fish from a drying up puddle. He takes this fish on their treacherous journey and discovers small miracles can happen. Beautifully written by L.S. Matthews.

Just got the YA Novel Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass.  Not sure I’ll be reading that one aloud to my elementary students, but the title has me hooked!  Hope you find some of these titles to read to your students next month!  They are wonderful!!!


Happy Reading