Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: The Last Line Matters! #SOL18 #TWTBlog
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Slice of Life: The Last Line Matters! #SOL18 #TWTBlog

Authors often make their intentions known on the last page. How we choose to end our story often leaves our reader with a strong feeling and may even inspire a reader to learn from a character’s experiences. You cannot determine theme, character motivation, the significance of the title or the meaning of a symbol until the end of the book. Young writers often are done by the time they get to the end of their narrative – in terms of attention, motivation, and stamina.

To shift this attention balance, we often reread a book and begin with the end.  It allows our young students to engage in a deeper conversation and make connections across the pages.  Similarly, we invite students some days to choose a text they have written and revise the ending.  They might do this work by acting it out, talking it out, or rewriting it.  When we honor process over product it doesn’t matter if they physically make the change in the writing itself, it matters that they give a go by playfully trying a few moves at the end.

Books like No, David!, Blackout, When Sophie Gets Angry, and The Story of Fish And Snail are great mentor texts to study close-in endings with K-2 writers.  These texts are short and endings like these make the author’s purpose clear.  This fall we have been conferring with K-2 writers on intentional endings. Here are a few of our favorite last lines from K-2 writers that were inspired by these mentor texts:

My brother never said sorry.

I never did get to go to the park.

Some days you just want to hit control alt delete.

It wasn’t my best choice but it also wasn’t my worst choice.

I never knew a dog could be your best friend.

I curled up on the couch and sunk into my mom.

If you want more titles for young writers to study, check out yesterday’s post.

If you want to read more ideas on how to use books to engage and instruct readers, check out our latest book, It’s All About the Books.  We are donating all of our royalties to the Book Love Foundation.  The Book Love Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving classroom libraries and putting books in the hands of students.

7 Comments
  • Rose Cappelli
    Posted at 11:39h, 06 November Reply

    One of my favorite last lines comes from Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon: “When you give love…it grows.”

  • Melanie Meehan
    Posted at 12:00h, 06 November Reply

    Ohhh! Loving the idea of a chart in the room for favorite first AND last lines. I have a few teachers who I know will do this. What a great idea for both readers and writers!

  • Erika Victor
    Posted at 12:38h, 06 November Reply

    Favorite last lines- I definitely want to pay more attention to this! Thanks for always opening my eyes wider.

  • Christine Baldiga
    Posted at 12:40h, 06 November Reply

    What a wonderful way to push our writers. This mirrors the phrase: it takes a reader to make a writer! I must share.
    Thank you.

  • Fran Haley
    Posted at 13:21h, 06 November Reply

    Reminds me of what our choir director tells us: “The last notes are what people remember.” There’s truth in that for last lines of books as well. And I think, too, of writing something all the way through and them going back to write the beginning last …

  • Natasha Domina
    Posted at 17:30h, 06 November Reply

    What lovely last lines your young writers wrote!! Thank you for sharing them.

  • Susan Kennedy
    Posted at 10:10h, 07 November Reply

    I can always count on you to be writing about what I’m considering with students. Working on making author’s craft transparent and picture books are always a start.

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