Thursday, December 10, 2009

Book Review: Wordsmith by Janie B. Cheaney

I studied writing books for years including some of the ones considered classics: On Writing Well by William Zinsser and The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White. Following their writing tips can make any prose better--guaranteed!

When I began homeschooling, I searched for a writing curriculum that taught some of the same principles of sound writing found in these excellent books. And I searched. And searched. 

I was frustrated until one fine day, I discovered Wordsmith by Janie B. Cheaney. It was the first curriculum for young students that taught what I’d learned from Zinsser and E.B White.

I love the way Ms. Cheaney begins with word choice, then builds with sentences, and finally goes on to paragraphs and essays. It seems like a natural way to build composition skills to me.

She also has a section on figures of speech which can bring a lyrical sound to your child’s prose. Each section has exercises which the children can do over and over until it becomes natural for them.

The teacher’s guide is short and sweet, not at all hard to follow. For the upper level, Ms. Cheaney has a book called Wordsmith Craftsman. I used that one book for all three years of my children’s high school writing. I simply changed the individual assignments, but followed through the book three times. My daughter gives a lot of credit of her excellent grades in college to the ability to write well. 

My hat’s off to Ms. Cheaney for creating a book that teaches writing like the pros on a child’s level.

P.S. I’ve never met the author of this book nor do I receive anything for recommending it. I just wanted to share a jewel with you.

What are your favorite writing books? Have you ever tried Wordsmith?

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