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Children Want to Write

Donald Graves and the Revolution in Children's Writing

By Edited by Thomas Newkirk, Edited by Penny Kittle

Pairing Don Graves’ most significant writings with recovered video from classrooms and presentations to teachers, Children Want to Write provides unprecedented insight into Don’s groundbreaking research and teachings, instilling  the confidence to trust ourselves, to lean in, to listen, and to learn beside our students.

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Full Description

Children Want to Write is a collection of Donald Graves most significant writings paired with recovered video-tapes that illuminate his research and his inspiring work with teachers. See the earliest documented use of invented spelling, the earliest attempts to guide young children through a writing process, the earliest conferences. This collection allows you to see this revolutionary shift in writing instruction—with its emphasis on observation, reflection, and approaching children as writers.

Read Chapter 3: Follow the Child

(click any section below to continue reading)



“‘If you don’t have a dream, how are you going to have a dream come true?’ Don has given teachers across the world an image of what teaching can be. Because of his legacy, we imagine a great teacher not at the chalkboard but sitting alongside a child, leaning in to hear, ready to respond.”

—Lucy Calkins, author of Pathways to the Common Core

I think of Don Graves often when I perch alongside students, read their drafts, and listen to their instruction. There never was a more sensible, satisfying method for learning or teaching than his writing workshop. And no one else was as encouraging to teachers; as a recipient of his famous nudge—‘You have a story to tell’—I owe him my career.

—Nancie Atwell, author of In the Middle

I was drawn to Don Graves first by reputation, then by his deep knowledge of children and writing, then by his humanity. Without Don my vision of literacy and friendship would be significantly narrowed, and I would be the less.

—Tom Romano, author of Crafting Authentic Voice

For most of my career, Don’s voice had been inside my head reminding me, ‘Kids want to write.’ It’s such a simple thing, but too often I think, it’s easy for teachers to disbelieve this real truth because we get in the way of children’s intentions and disrupt it. But it doesn’t change it, I’ve found. Kids do indeed want to write—if we’ll just let them!”

—Katie Wood Ray, author of ­­­Already Ready

“Don turned our attention, and students’ attention, toward teaching and learning processes, which was a big influence on me, and which we now know is critical for developing resilient learners.”

—Peter Johnston, author of Opening Minds

Related PD Services

Email if you would like to contact Thomas Newkirk directly about professional development support.

PD Resources From Penny Kittle