Friday, February 13, 2009

Why I Write Middle Grade Fiction

A high school English teacher for 20 years, I repeatedly became frustrated when students, most often but not always boys, would not be interested in reading, not even when given a choice of what to read. At first, I decided that I was not using the right avenue to reach them. Many years later, I came to the conclusion that by the time these students reached me, there was little I could do to change them into readers. Mind you, some did change and thanked me later, but the majority of them just did not like to read, not even non-fiction.

That's when I decided to write for reluctant readers. These students can read, but along the way have made the choice, for whatever reason, not to. I knew that I would have to focus on the lower grades (4-6) and find some topic that would interest them at that grade level and maybe, just maybe, keep them reading beyond elementary school.

I chose the world of King Arthur because I am passionate about everything in that world. In my 9th grade English classes, I taught "The Once and Future King" by T.H. White. The students explored the ideals presented and eagerly searched to find those ideals in their worlds. They (boys and girls) loved the adventures of Merlyn and Wart. The ones who didn't read the whole book listened to their peers talk about the book and became involved that way. So, I knew that this would be where I would start my writing. My subject for this first book evolved when students did not know anything of Guinevere, or only knew that she cheated on King Arthur and caused the fall of Camelot.

I set about to write a story that would acquaint elementary students with Guinevere and show them what she was like at their age. The story leaves students understanding that Guinevere was not the sole or even main cause of King Arthur's failure. It teaches a lesson that I must have had buried in my subconscious and never realized.

1 comment:

  1. Mrs Carpinello you were hands down THE BEST teacher that I ever had. That also includes all of my college professors. Even though you were a tough ass sometimes I learned more from you then anyone else. Honestly, you are the reason why I read as much as I do now. You changed my life and for that I thank you.