Author: Carol Baldwin
Publisher: Maupin House Publishing
ISBN- 978-1-934338-35-3

Click Here To Purchase Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8

Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8 2nd ed. is one of the most effective and engaging books I have ever seen on how to teach creative writing to young students. With a gentle and yet authoritative hand, author Carol Baldwin brilliantly leads student through such topics as: Discussing the Basics, Creating a Character, Setting the Scene, Developing the Plot, Writing the First Draft, and Editing and Revising.

Developed as an instructional guide, Baldwin guides the teacher through detailed, organized and clear lessons that help students  learn the craft of short fiction, foster critical-thinking skills to carry those skills over into informational writing.

Baldwin does this in part by introducing genres that kids love including: sci-fi/fantasy, history, sports, and mystery. Each lesson keeps the student audience in mind though its use of kid friendly and genuinely interesting examples. The book also comes with a CD that allows for course personalization and adds an element of new technology “coolness” to the course by connecting the students’ writing through wikis, digital media, and podcasts.

As an example of the typical teaching style, to help students understand the many levels at which revision can occur – from smallest to largest, Baldwin presents these often complicated concepts to the student by using the effective analogy of a neighborhood with in a city within a state.

House – word choice: Has the writer used the most specific noun, vivid verb, or descriptive adjective?

Street – sentences: Is there a variety of syntax? Are the tense and speaker/subject consistent from one sentence to the next?

Neighborhood – punctuation and capitalization: Are they correct?

City – paragraph: Do paragraphs make sense? Are there transitions? Should paragraphs be rearranged? Are there new paragraphs each time there is a change in speaker?

State – content of entire work: Did the piece accomplish its purpose? Was it organized well? Did transitions make sense?

Each of the 20 mini lessons are clearly laid out with goals, teacher preparation points, instructional tasks, lists of resources, and adaptations of the lesson for older students.

All instructions are clear with lessons building on previous knowledge. To aid in the understanding, there are plenty of examples of what not to do followed by what the student should do. For example when discussing dialogue:


“Hello,” said Barbara.

“Hello,” answered Jerry.

“How are you?” asked Barbara.

“I’m OK,” Jerry relied. “How about yourself?”

Try Instead:

Barbara and Jerry slunk into the room at the same time. “Hi,” Barbara offered tentatively. “You look better.” Her hands were sweaty and her mouth felt like it was full of sand. They hadn’t seen each other for ten months. What would this first meeting be like?

 An impressive and clearly written guide, Baldwin manages to move the teaching of creative story writing from intimidating to fun and productive.

Click Here To Purchase Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8