Please Write in This Book by Mary Amato (ages 7 – 10) tells the harrowing tale of what happens when a teacher leaves a blank composition book in the Writer’s Corner for her students to find with the instructions “Please Write in this Book.”
Third grade teacher has Ms. Wurtz decided to encourage creative dialogue by leaving a blank notebook in the hopes that students will “talk to each other.” The only rules are to “have fun” and “sign your name.” She promises not to read the entries until the end of the month. (and she seemingly keeps this promise despite the uproar that ensues)
As one might expect as the children begin to express themselves, alliances and rivalries develop. Personalities are revealed: rule-maker Lizzy; her peacemaker sidekick, Yoshiko; class clown Luke; and organizer/self-proclaimed editor Milton contribute to the journal and illustrate their handwritten entries. As the boys’ bathroom humor escalates against the girls’ pleas to write only “nice things,” a rebellion in words develops.
Although the children’s adversarial issues and age-appropriately silly rhyming verse take up their focus at first, the classmates come together writing a collaborative fictional “rescue” story in a well-meaning, satisfactory end to the story.
My own book baby is the age of the kids in this book and the “petty” squabbles, usually divided down gender lines, in this story ring true to what I know of her experience. While they may seem trivial to us adult, they often don’t feel that way to the kids. This is a great choice for a 2nd or 3rd grade reluctant reader. Or really any kid that’s ever had trouble with a classmate.
Wait… That’s basically every kid alive.