Mary Amato at Seaton Elementary School

Every single student in the room laughed today as Mary Amato read from Please Write in This Book! How could anyone resist with words like barf, snot and honker cropping up in the first pages? These words (and great kid’s drawings) came from the characters in Mary’s book getting very excited about a class writing notebook.

Contained within the humor of Please Write in This Book! is a strong call for students to write for themselves. Mary Amato’s presence, like her book, is funny, energetic and light-hearted as she shares important techniques for becoming a stronger reader and writer. Within minutes of Mary’s arrival, she had students predicting what will happen next in the book, identifying character traits and generating interesting language to describe each character. Next, Mary shared memorable writing secrets that students immediately applied in an acting game that taught them to develop a compelling character and a winning story. Students worked together to create characters and a plot and improvised funny and original skits using details their class developed on the spot and silly props from a bag. The morning after Mary’s visit, the school librarian reported:

The children loved the time with you and being able to take a book home. I saw them reading at lunch, and talking about the book. I also saw quite a few of the boys fake barfing. So, good times had by all.

Since Please Write in This Book! centers on the stories and dramas that happen in a notebook left in a writer’s corner of a classroom, An Open Book Foundation left a notebook in the Seaton library with the promise we’d return to check out its contents in the future. We believe Mary Amato’s writing lesson and hilarious characters will inspire students who have felt panicked at the sight of an empty page to write their own amusing stories. Each student received a copy of the book so the laughing will continue for a long time.