November 2015


Word After Word After Word

Patricia MacLachlan

Fourth graders Lucy, Henry, Evie, Russell, and May meet every day under Henry's huge lilac bush to talk about things. They talk how school is boring, until one day Ms. Mirabel, a visiting poet, starts coming to their class to talk with them about writing. Ms. Mirabel brings magical words and a whole new way of seeing and understanding. This is an honest, inspiring story about what is real and what is unreal, and about the ways that writing can change our lives and connect us to our own stories - word after word after word.

A Note from the First Lady:

Dear Read20 Book Club families,

Writing can be a great way to think through feelings and gain insight about yourself, while practicing important reading and writing skills. Our November Book of the Month, Word After Word After Word, illustrates how impactful writing can be when Ms. Mirabel, a famous writer, visits a fourth-grade classroom and helps five friends make sense of their lives through writing poetry. In the book, Ms. Mirabel gives reasons for writing poetry, including to think through life events, to understand what another person is thinking, to discover what one is afraid of, or to solve a problem. Each of the friends has his or her own challenges to face, but their writing helps them to understand each other and grow closer together.

As you read this book, think about life-changing events that have happened in your life and challenges that you or your friends may face. Can you think of anyone who has had a major impact in your life? As we celebrate Thanksgiving later this month, this can be the perfect time to thank friends and family who have changed your life for the better!

Keep up the great reading!

Crissy Haslam
First Lady of Tennessee


Family Friendly Activities for the Book of the Month

  1. Do you think of yourself as a writer? Why or why not? If you do write, why do you write? If you don’t write, what would make you start writing?

  2. In this book Ms. Maribel teaches students to use writing to help process thoughts and feelings that might be scary or difficult to understand. Think about something in your own life that has been challenging, such as a fear, sadness, or obstacle. Write about your experience in the form of a poem. Afterward, discuss your courageous words. How did it feel to take risks in writing? What did you learn? Would you try it again?

  3. How do Lucy, Evie, May, Henry, and Russell change by the end of the story? Do they all change in the same way? How did their writing and their friendship help develop changes? Explain.

  4. If Ms. Mirabel came to your class, what would you want to ask her? How do you imagine she might answer? Have you ever met or talked to an author? Ask your family or your local librarian if there are any authors in your community that you might be able to interview. With a parent or guardian, ask the writer how they became an author. How has writing changed their life and helped them to process emotions and ideas?