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Looking to Write

Looking to Write

Children Writing Through the Visual Arts

By Mary Ehrenworth
Foreword by Maxine Greene

An art historian turned literacy consultant, Ehrenworth shows us how the visual arts can inspire and motivate writers.  Each chapter describes one way to employ visual art in the writing workshop along with the rationale for using it, sample images, and worksheets.

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List Price: $33.00

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Full Description

    With vigor, grace, and courage, in this brilliant new book, Ehrenworth raises the stakes in the teaching of writing.
    —Maureen Barbieri, Steinhardt School of Education, New York University
    Mary Ehrenworth tempts, suggests, arouses; she helps us over the obstacles to the mastery of writing, of rediscovering the self through storytelling and writing poetry.
    —Maxine Greene, Teachers College, Columbia University
    Looking to Write will open your English/language arts classroom to deeper seeing and knowing.
    —Tom Romano, Miami University, Ohio

Breathe new passion into teaching writing. Teach it as an aesthetic experience. Have your students of writing start with art.

Mary Ehrenworth particularly appreciates the meaning and inspiration the visual arts can afford the writing process. An art historian turned literacy consultant, she conducts workshops that use visual prompts as tools to help students locate significant things to write about and craft beautiful writing in response. She also helps teachers discover new possibilities for themselves as curriculum developers and storytellers.

Each of Ehrenworth's chapters describes one way to employ visual art in the writing workshop with reasons to do it, guides for trying it, images, and worksheets. Included throughout the book are breathtaking examples of student writing using artworks as starting points for:

  • imagining different perspectives and making them real through story
  • practicing empathetic imagination to create narratives and poems of desire and loss
  • giving imagination play through contemporary mythmaking
  • restructuring identities by communing with a particular work.

Look closely.
In the looking, find things to write about.
And in the writing, experience what Dewey called that "delightful perception."
There's no better way to get there than with Looking to Write.

(click any section below to continue reading)


  1. Poetic Understanding: Imagining Picasso
  2. American Landscape and the Aesthetic Experience
  3. Telling Stories of the World: Short Story Writing and Flexible Cultural Perspectives
  4. Mythology and the Pedagogies of Desire

Afterword: Some Thoughts About the Role of the Writing Teacher


Some Support Structures for Writing/A Note on More Images

  • Observation Record Sheet
  • Benin—Learning Centers
  • Culturally Flexible Short Stories
  • Outlining Possible Structures
  • Looking at Sculpture and Painting
  • Possible Planning Schedules for Mythology
  • An Editing Checklist
  • Sample Rubrics for Our Writing

Some More on Picasso (1881-1973)
Some More on Benin
Some Student Writing
Some Interactive Writing—Picasso and Poetry
Some Writing for Children—Benin Short Story
Some Writing for Children—A Mythology of Artemis in Three Parts

Companion Resources

Images for Chapter One: Poetic Understanding: Imagining Picasso
Paintings of Picasso

Images for Chapter Three: Short Story Writing and Flexible Cultural Perspectives
Cultural Artifacts of Benin

Images for Chapter Four: Mythology and the Pedagogies of Desire
Ancient Sculpture