Good writers are first and foremost great readers. In fact, “Read, read, read!” is the advice authors give when asked by kids how to become a writer.

Sneak Peek for Publishers

The fundamental need to read good books in order to write well is at the heart and soul of the NCBLA’s upcoming Empowering Young Writers national initiative. Galvanized by that belief, the NCBLA designed Empowering Young Writers to be both a reading promotion campaign, as well as a writing education project.

Although most teachers are avid readers, many do not think of themselves as writers. Empowering Young Writers is designed to help teachers—especially upper-elementary and middle school teachers—guide their students on the path to writing well. Writing education programs are expensive, a purchase that economically challenged urban and rural schools can ill afford. Children with low literacy skills are often not receiving the help they need. The NCBLA’s Empowering Young Writers slideshows and companion educational materials will be available free to teachers and students across the country. 

Today’s students, living in an increasingly screen prevalent world, are more visually oriented than past generations. Consequently, a series of slide presentations, featuring art and text excerpts from young people’s trade books, form the unifying hub of Empowering Young Writers—a distinguishing feature of this initiative. The inclusion of engaging book art, text excerpts, and book jacket covers within the slideshows serves a dual purpose: illustrating writing elements and skills, while promoting substantive fiction and nonfiction books to students and teachers.

As the NCBLA works toward creating these extensive materials to be published on our upcoming Empowering Young Writers Resource Center, we provide this preview page for publishers to see the book illustrations and excerpts we seek permission to use, in context.

We view our Empowering Young Writers Initiative as an obvious win/win for educators, parents, authors, illustrators, publishers—and most importantly, our nation’s children. We hope you agree. We would be most appreciative, and profoundly grateful, for your help.

Click a topic or scroll down to discover more about this initiative and to view the Empowering Young Writers slideshows.

Empowering Young Writers: Project Details for Publishers

Writers’ Tools Slideshows

Writing Workshop Slideshows

Empowering Young Writers: Project Details for Publishers

The following explains our target audience, usage of illustrations and excerpts, inclusion of copyright statements, and schedule:

  • The Empowering Young Writers slideshows, and companion educational materials, target the needs of upper elementary and middle school students and teachers. Education experts inform us that primary, secondary, and special needs teachers, as well as home schoolers, will also find the materials and information of great help. The National Council of Teachers of English is serving as an education advisor to the NCBLA on this national initiative. Rudine Sims Bishop, our diversity consultant, will be reviewing all materials before we launch.
  • In the Empowering Young Writers slideshows, the NCBLA utilizes fiction and nonfiction children’s book art to great effect, illustrating not only storytelling and writing elements, but also more intangible writing concepts related to creativity, imagination, experience, memory, and sensory observation. It is our hope that this unique spotlighting of picture books will expand the use of picture books in educational settings with older children, tweens, and teens.
  • In the slideshows we have created thus far, we have introduced a widely diverse group of illustrations, text excerpts, and book jacket covers from over 400 books and over 120 publishers. That statistic alone will ignite the marketing of this initiative, expanding the positive feelings that American teachers and parents already have toward the young people’s publishing community.
  • With rare exception, the illustrations and book jackets we include have already appeared publicly in online sources. Every illustration and text excerpt that appear on the slides have a copyright and credit line visible on the slide itself. The educator guides being created for each Empowering Young Writers slideshow will also contain a full list of all the book excerpts and book illustrations used in each slide with author, illustrator, and publisher credits. Each list will have a live link to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Independent Publishers websites, for purchasing convenience.
  • We investigated numerous slideshow vehicles and found that Microsoft PowerPoint allows us the most creative freedom to present visuals in a sharp and attractive manner.
  • All authors, illustrators, and publishers will be invited to submit materials for the author/illustrator/publisher index, which will appear online within the NCBLA’s Empowering Young Writers pages. Authors and illustrators can share writing or illustration tips, a photo of themselves, a short bio, book jacket covers of their latest publications, and a live link to their own professional website, and/or their publisher’s website. We would also like to include live links to publishers’ websites which include a description of the educational assets available on their websites. All content for the index should be supplied by the authors, illustrators, and publishers.
  • For well over two decades, educator, author, and NCBLA President and Executive Director Mary Brigid Barrett has worked with teachers and students, teaching creative writing in schools across the country. The Empowering Young Writers methods and materials are inspired by those experiences. She saw, first-hand, how expensive writing programs available to affluent communities are often absent in poverty-challenged schools.
  • We will launch as soon as we have received all permissions. We will be adding new Writing Workshop Focus slideshows throughout the school year featuring in-depth information related to story characterization, action and plot development, descriptive language, poetry, nonfiction writing, and more.

Writers’ Tools Slideshows

Using illustrations from a wide variety of diverse picture books, the Writers’ Tools slideshows demonstrate how students can use their five physical senses— and their experiences, memories, creativity, and imaginations—to become better writers and storytellers. It is our hope, in viewing these slides, that educators will realize picture book illustrations make inspiring writing prompts for students of all ages. We have been urged by the NCTE to include cross-curriculum writing opportunities that promote both fiction and nonfiction writing. We have enthusiastically embraced that suggestion, featuring a wide variety of quality fiction and nonfiction picture book illustrations that will inspire students to write about the arts, sciences, and history.

This section includes the following slideshows:

  • I. Your Five Senses
  • II. Experience and Memory
  • III. Imagination Power
  • IV. Creativity and Ideas

To check out all the Writers’ Tools slideshows, click here.

Writing Workshop Slideshows

The Writing Workshop slideshows provide an overview of basic writing concepts and story elements. They are works-in-progress, but we trust they are developed enough to give a good idea of their intent and direction.

The Writing Workshop: Focus on Dialogue slideshow was created as a prototype, complete with a companion educator guide and supporting materials, to demonstrate the quality of the finished supporting materials that will be created for each slideshow. The Writing Workshop slideshows will eventually include shows offering in-depth discussions of characterization; plot; setting, time, and place; descriptive writing, etc. Additional slideshows will demonstrate how these storytelling elements are equally important in fiction and nonfiction writing.

This section currently includes the following slideshows:

  • Story Basics: What Is a Story?
  • Getting Started: Power Words
  • Getting Started: Show Don’t Tell
  • Story Elements: Structure (Beginnings, Middles, Endings)
  • Story Elements: Characters I (Major and Minor Characters)
  • Story Elements: Characters II (How Characters Determine Story)
  • Story Elements: Plot I (Plot Definition and Types of Conflict)
  • Story Elements: Plot II (“The Note” Interactive Story)
  • Story Elements: Plot III (Plotting Hint: Start on the Day That’s Different)
  • Story Elements: Plot IV (Plotting Hint: Withhold Information)
  • Story Elements: Setting I (Time, Place, and Sensory Language)
  • Story Elements: Setting II (Comparing and Contrasting)
  • Story Elements: Setting III (Researching Time and Place)
  • Story Elements: Setting III (Research. Let’s Write!)
  • Writing Workshop Focus: Dialogue

To check out all the Writing Workshop slideshows, click here.