{PBL} Monster Book

Front cover of monster book.

Front cover of monster book.

Back in December, I posted about my 8yo’s monster project. Last week, after a couple illness-related delays, we brought a thumb drive full of files to Staples and came home with five copies of his book.

We both learned quite a bit during this project. He took his original idea through to completion–no small task, given how many monsters he ultimately included (12) and how long he’s been working on this. At times we both struggled to keep him moving forward. I was firm that he would finish the project, but somewhere there’s a line between mentoring and taking over, and I tried to be continually aware of that line.

Chupacabra page.

Chupacabra page in monster book.

I also tried to get any thoughts out of my head regarding how anybody else might describe a third-grade writing level. The series Become a Writing Mentor to Your Child at Wonderfarm helped with this, too. My son is moving at his own pace where writing is concerned. I know he brought home more “advanced” writing assignments from school last year, but I also know he required one of the teachers to sit and work with him one-on-one to produce them. The writing barely reflects his personality, and I suspect he had very little say on subject matter or style. Honestly, I’m happy he chose to do anything connected with writing. His book pages are mainly lists, with sentences here and there, but he did the research, took the notes, and chose what to include himself. He also drew all the pictures. The one I’ve included is one of my favorites, but truthfully, they are all pretty special and definitely reflect his personal style.

Beyond the planning, researching, writing, and drawing, he also learned how to use Publisher, looked over the printed pages to catch any mistakes (editing), and decided upon the page order in the book. After creating a made-up monster out of Model Magic, he decided to paint it and use a photo of it for the cover of the book, so he set up the shot and took it himself (top of post). He then decided he needed another shot for the back cover.

Back cover of monster book.

Back cover of monster book.

He used the back of the monster, of course! Once at Staples, he needed to make decisions about the cover stock and binding, as well as direct his brother and me as we collated the copies into the correct order.

Sorting monster book pages at Staples.

Sorting monster book pages at Staples.

He was incredibly excited to have five “published” copies of his book–one for each family member–in hand, and sat down to read it to me as soon as we got home. Yet, he downplayed his accomplishment. Plenty of people write books, he said. I tried to emphasize what he’d done–he made a plan, did the research, put it all together according to his own vision–this is huge.

My hope is that this book becomes a physical reminder that he can set a goal and then reach it. I want that for my kids, all of it. I want them to be able to set their own goals and feel capable of reaching them.

15 thoughts on “{PBL} Monster Book

  1. amanda

    i love that you took him through the final step, through actually publishing it. it’s an incredible effort and such a great lesson. my kids are all working on various writing projects and i’m pretty hands-off. i do offer input if they ask but mostly, i like to encourage them and see what they come up with – it’s truly a reflection of them and their interest and for me, so much better to read than those darn 5 paragraph essays ;-)

    kudos to your son on the publication of his first book!

  2. Dawn Suzette

    This is really wonderful! It sounds like it was an awesome learning experience for you both.
    Congrats to him on his super cool book. I know some little people who would love to read it!

  3. patricia

    Your new blog looks fantastic, Amy! You did it!

    I’m so glad that you were able to let go of school-ish expectations of his writing; what he actually did is very rich! Especially researching, note-taking and deciding what to include. Those are such important skills to learn. More important than worrying about him writing more full sentences. That will come.

    Not to mention drawing, modeling, using Publisher, taking photos and deciding on layout… What a fantastic project!

    1. amy Post author

      Thanks for your series, Patricia. It helped reinforce what I already know but sometimes have to remind myself: he is in a word-rich home, has an excellent vocabulary, and loves to read. The more involved writing will come.

      And yes! The site is still a work in progress but I did it!!

  4. Victoria

    Wow, so cool. Please let him know that, whenever I visit you next (someday?!) I would like to see his book or have him read it to me, if he is comfortable with those things.

    1. amy Post author

      He said he *would* be comfortable with those things. We’d love to see you. Maybe I should just take all my kids down there…

  5. Karen

    what a huge success! having a reluctant writer at home myself, I understand the magnitude of this accomplishment. and I love love love that the back cover has a picture of the back of the monster.

  6. michelle

    This is so great. I do love that you helped him all the way through the final product. Tell him he did some fantastic work there!

  7. Elizabeth

    Love!!. I love the back cover of the book! :-). I’m going to read that post by Wonderfarm on how to mentor a writer. My big thing right now in the back of my mind is, “I wonder if she writes well enough for a 10 year old, I wonder if she’ll ever learn to make a plot.” But then I’m also thinking (as I type what she dictates to me), “Wow! Where does she come up with this stuff? She’s amazing! I’m so blessed to get to share what’s going on in her mind.”

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