Neon Words: Developing the writer’s craft and creativity (ages 12 & up)

I am continually delighted by the number of high school students who tell me how much they enjoy writing, how they spend time writing in journals, writing poetry, writing stories. Do you have a burgeoning writer in your life? Hand them

Neon Words: 10 Brilliant Ways to Light Up Your Writing

by Marge Pellegrino and Kay Sather
Magination Press, 2021
Amazon / your public library
ages 12 and up

Each writer approaches their craft with a different perspective, but one thing that makes writing sparkle is a personal connection. Pellegrino and Sather take readers through different writing exercises and techniques, but they shine most as they speak directly to the reader in an approachable voice. Instead of coming across as English teachers setting a task before students, Pellegrino and Sather come across as “real writers” who are sharing their own experience with young writers.  

Chapters focus on different strategies and exercises young writers can try, and the authors spend as much time showing students examples from their own writing as giving directions. “Make It Personal” talks about the importance of having a personal journal, and shows writers how to combine simple drawing with similes to stretch associative connections and wordplay. “Look Who’s Talking” shows writers how to play with dialogue and point of view, strengthening their skills and noticing the way dialogue can carry a scene. Here’s one strategy shared in the chapter “Switch It Up”:

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I especially appreciate how these short chapters encourage young writers to try out different strategies, to play with writing instead of focusing on a finished piece. My grandmother used to talk about “mental gymnastics” — and I really see the same here. Writers need to flex their creative muscles to become more flexible and learn different moves. As they tell young readers and writers,

“Just remember: You’re the boss. These pages hold only suggestions. So improvise! Use the ideas to get yourself started… Get ready to be surprised by where your words will take you.”

Marge Pellegrino is the author of Journey of Dreams, a very memorable immigration story. She is a writing teacher and mentor whom I admire greatly. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases if you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site.

©2021 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books