Modeling Writing with The Book of Awesome

I first learned about The Book of Awesome from my friend Amy, who presented about nonfiction mentor texts at the TCTELA conference last year.  I quickly purchased the book, and I have been waiting for the right moment to have my students write about their own “awesome” things.

book of awesome

If you aren’t familiar with the book, check out Neil Pasricha’s blog, where each day he writes about a new awesome thing such as “The Kids’ Table” or “Getting the Milk-to-Cereal Ratio Just Right” or “Bakery Air.”  

Here were the steps to this writing experience (You may recognize these as the steps to pretty much any writing workshop, but it always bears repeating!):

  1. The kids and I looked at several examples (ie. mentor texts) both from the book and from the blog.  I read through lots of the titles, and then I read a few entries aloud.
  2. I gave the students a few minutes to brainstorm a list of “awesome things” in their lives.
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  3. Each student chose one thing off his or her list and spent about 10-15 minutes writing about it.
  4. The students brought their awesome things back to class the next day (they were welcome to work on it more at home if they chose).
  5. Anyone who wanted to share read their piece aloud.

How did this relate to anything else that we were doing in AP Literature, you ask?  I used it as one way to introduce poetry, actually.

I recently finished “The Lyric Nostalgia,” an essay by Dr. Louise Cowan on the philosophical underpinnings of poetry. One of the ideas Dr. Cowan presents in that essay is the idea of the three stages of the lyric voice: anticipation, fulfillment, and lamentation.  I believe that writing about what we consider to be awesome is an expression of the middle voice, fulfillment, when we are perfectly content with the way the world is.  These moments don’t last long, but they are small glimpses into all that is good in life.

I’m thinking of having the students now take their pieces and turn them into poems.  That might be a logical next step.  What do you think?

Have any of you used The Book of Awesome?  What was your experience?

Work Cited:

Cowan, Louise. “Introduction: The Lyric Nostalgia.” The Prospect of Lyric. Ed. Bainard Cowan. Dallas: Dallas Institute Publications, 2012. 1-18. Print.

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