This is one of the most interesting and practical books I’ve come across in a long time. The goal is to teach our children to become better communicators. Much of the emphasis is upon written forms of communication, but it includes oral, artistic, and dramatic forms of communication.
The beauty of this book is that Sandra Garant finds ways to easily incorporate communication activities into everyday life so that children learn the value and importance of developing these skills. I love the way she brings creativity to some of the simplest tasks like making signs and lists. But this isn’t just a creative writing resource. Garant stresses the importance of purposefulness in encouraging children to write. Consequently, she has her children communicate in writing many times when most of us would settle for oral communication: writing scripts for the answering machine, making a sign to remind family members when it is safe to let the dog out into the backyard, and writing out directions to your home to post near the phone for children to communicate to telephone inquirers. These are actually very practical ideas!
Communication in this book includes learning how to take phone messages, how to call and ask for information, creating cards with written or drawn messages, creating video presentations, and albums.
There are writing ideas for all ages—beginning writers through adults. Examples of ideas for older children are writing their own tests, creating instruction aids, doing community presentations, and writing action letters. Many of Garant’s ideas are brilliant for motivating older, non-writers (see pp. 8-9). She also gives suggestions for informally incorporating grammar into writing activities.
While Sandra writes from her Catholic perspective, including some examples that relate to their religious activities, this book would be great for all families. It functions primarily as a resource book for parents, although toward the end, many of the chapters are written directly to students. (There’s some inconsistency on this.)
I can’t imagine any family that can’t use at least some of these ideas to make writing more purposeful and fun.