Introducing Stella: A Writer for Writers

     I got this crazy idea; this crazy, wonderful idea.  Her name is Stella.  Wrapped up inside her are all the little writers I've taught over the years.  The writers who had courage.  The writers who had voice.  The writers who stuck in there and believed me when I told them and showed them their voices mattered.  The writers who didn't want to stop for lunch or recess.  Those who wrote at home:  "Ms. Wag, I wrote this in bed last night.  I fell asleep and rolled over it a bit.  That's why it's so wrinkly."  Those who wrote at Denny's: "Ms. Wag, I got this great idea but we were eating at Denny's so I wrote it on a napkin...see?"  One who wrote book after book about her experience when her baby sister had cancer.  One who got caught under the nightlight by his mom while writing poetry:  "What are you doing?!  You should be asleep!"  "I've got another poem in my head and I've got to get it out!"  One who wrote to defeat his anger:  "That was some field trip!  We didn't even go!  I hate the world!" (Alabama...darn tornadoes.)  One who wrote to get out his fears: "What if I disappeared?  What if I disappeared and no one was left?  What happened to my home?  What happened to my school?  What happened to my friends?" (Hurricane Katrina displaced this boy from New Orleans and he landed in our second grade classroom in Birmingham.)  One who wrote a poem called "Ice Skating in the Olympics" and began with some onomatopoeia, "Shit, shit, shit..." (the sound of the skates scraping against the ice).  

    Let's not forget the strugglers:  those who stare at the page blankly, those who wrestle with spelling, those who are crippled by perfection, those who feel they have nothing of worth to say, or those who begin a new school year, with long, sharpened pencils, fresh notebooks and a profound dislike  for writing.  I thought a lot about them as I formed Stella, because it's students like her who help lift the writing bar.  Stella is a model of writing hope.  And, alongside her teacher and classmates, her classroom is a place of writing joy.  The struggle is worth it, the struggle is worth it.  Everyone has a story to tell.  Everyone has something we need to take the time to hear. 

     I've laughed with writers, cried with writers, but most importantly, I've always tried to connect with writers.  And, that's what makes it all work.  Stella's teacher has much to do with the writing joy in her classroom, as all fabulous teachers of writing do.  She capitalizes on writing opportunities, teaches with intention, gives her students time to write, talk, and share every single day, and makes their writing relevant and meaningful. 

   Donald Graves said the most important thing teachers of writing can do is write themselves.  So, I got this idea; this crazy, wonderful idea.  And, I wrote and wrote and here she is.  A little writer to inspire and connect with other little writers.  Thanks to all the little writers who've inspired me!

P.S. Thanks so much to Tom Schiele, Dana Regan, and the wonderful people at SDE and Crystal Springs Books!


  1. Hi Janiel,
    I just nominated you for the Liebster Award for bloggers! I really like your blog posts. I am a Title 1 reading specialist, and appreciate your focus on writing, especially for struggling writers.Although I have not read your Stella books, yet, I am really interested in checking them out soon.If you are interested in more details about the Liebster Award and getting the logo button, please visit me at Best wishes, Karen

  2. Hello Karen,
    So nice to meet another Title I literacy specialist! Thanks so much for the nomination! That's great! I will check out the details.
    Yes, I love to think about all stuff literacy and how to get the most from our Title I community. I have some
    new ideas I'm working on now. I wish I had more time to post, but I do what I can.
    The Stella books won't be out until January. I'm so excited about them, I can hardly stand it!
    Thanks so much for writing to me! Enjoy the holidays!

  3. It’s the little changes that make the largest changes. phone girls in London


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