All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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Exquisite Prompt Writing Resources

Jon Scieszka Prompts

Jon Scieszka is a guy who writes books — funny books. Mr. Scieszka is the guy who wrote the first episode of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure. He's also the guy who is the very first and the current National Ambassador for Young People's Literature and the guy who started a campaign called Guys Read to encourage boys to read.

The Scieszka brothers

Mr. Scieszka is also one of six Scieszka brothers who grew up "wrestling in the living room, fighting at the dinner table, and tying up the babysitter." He and his brothers could even turn going to the bathroom into a chance to use their imaginations. In his memoir Knucklehead: Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories about Growing Up Scieszka, there's a chapter called "Crossing Swords" about all the Scieszka brothers going to the bathroom, together, at the same time, in the same toilet.

This and other such warm recollections of family togetherness inspire our first Exquisite Prompt. Even if you've never had your brother try to sell you your own shirt or tied a sibling to a bed or charged your friends money to watch your brother chew cigarette butts, you have a family story to tell. Your family history, your heritage, is more than just dates and places. There are stories to be told and retold.


Prompt for grades 6-8

Jon Scieszka can show you his third grade report card and his Junior Bowling awards. He doesn't have his model airplanes though since he set them on fire. Choose something in your home that represents a part of your history or your family history. What is its meaning and significance to your family? Something in your house that seems ordinary, like an old suitcase, may have a very interesting story behind it or perhaps there's something that's proudly displayed, like a medal, which has a story to tell. Writing from the viewpoint of the object, describe the object in detail, explain how it came to be in your house, and who it is important to and why.

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Prompt for grades 9-12

For hundreds of years, people have written songs about where they dwell from odes to sod houses to anthems about little pink houses. In many ways, a song is like a story. A song can be an excellent way to learn about our own social history, to get a point across, or to gain knowledge of facts-like the scientific facts in Jon Scieszka's parodies of old favorite poems and songs in his book, Science Verse. We're not looking for facts here, just a slice of life story. Write song lyrics about what makes your house (or apartment) a home or write about a place where you feel at home. The song does not have to be strictly autobiographical or factually accurate, but should generalize your feelings about your concept of "home" and help your listeners relate your song to their own experiences.

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