Friday, November 17, 2017

#EnticingWriters Blog Tour

I am thrilled to be able to share with all of you Ruth Ayres' new book, Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers.  Earlier this week, Tammy and Clare wrote a great review on their blog, Assessment in Perspective. They give you the highlights of each section and share several quotes that are sure to linger in your thoughts.  

On Wednesday, Michelle, at Literacy Learning Zone, shared an interview with Ruth. In her post, Ruth answers questions from teachers about the writing process.

Today, in true Ruth Ayres style, I simply tell a story...or two.

I have always been a believer in "things happen for a reason." The week Ruth asked me to help welcome her book into the world, two situations happened. I believe each was meant to happen for me to fully understand the impact of Ruth's book on my thinking and my teaching.
The first was a conference for a new student who had recently been placed in our foster care system from a nearby county. She lived in deplorable conditions with parents who were drug users.  She bounced from foster home to foster home, and eventually landed with us.
She comes from a hard place.
The second happened during writing workshop in my classroom. We began a narrative unit, and I sat down next to one of my writers as she told me her story. Her mom was a drug user while she was pregnant. She had three other children and was incapable of caring for all of them. My student was later adopted, and she told me being adopted was the best thing that had happened to her.
She comes from a hard place.
Both of these students are still healing. Both situations made me realize that I not only wanted to read Ruth's book, but that I NEEDED to read it.  

I know I am not the only teacher to have children sitting in my classroom who come from hard places. We all have students just like Ruth's children: Hannah, Stephanie, Jay, and Sam.  

But do I understand how trauma alters children's brains? Do I know how to help them heal from their hard pasts? Am I a faithful and fearless teacher who can help them write a happy ending? Am I willing to take a leap of faith to entice all students to write their stories?

Ruth's book, Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers helped me in my struggle to find those answers.


I first heard the introduction of Ruth's book last summer at the All Write Conference in Warsaw, Indiana. Ruth sat down on the floor of the stage with the microphone in her hand. Her voice quivered as she genuinely shared a part of her heart through her children's stories.  As tears were shed in that silent auditorium, she also reminded us that we, as teachers, have the power to change lives.


Ruth teaches us about brain research and how children from hard places can learn to heal. When we take the time to to provide for the needs of the children in our classrooms, "we prove to them they are valuable and worthy" (p. 21). Ruth reminds us that we don't always "see" the trauma students experience, yet their brains begin to heal when they know their needs are going to be met. Many times those needs are met by teachers.


Ruth shares her life as a writer and a workshop teacher and how becoming a writer made an impact in her teaching. For me, chapter seven was a power chapter because she states that being a teacher who writes is what eventually enticed her students to write themselves. "Of all things I can do to affect my writing instruction, this is the most important" (p. 48). Ruth reminds us that children who experience trauma, can begin the healing through story. And when teachers understand the impact of having written, we can help them heal.


Ruth gives us seven leaps of faith. She unsurprisingly prefaces the leaps with celebration, "Celebration lives alongside the messiness of learning; we simply must learn to see it" (p.83). The best part of this section is the feeling that Ruth is there holding my hand and saying, "You can do this, and I am going to show you how."

Earlier this week, just when I thought this blog post was finished, I experienced yet another encounter with a student writer. She was writing a narrative about the time her dad left her. She felt unwanted and unloved. We had conferred about the direction she wanted her story to go. I sat down next to her because I saw she wasn't writing. I asked her, "How's it going?"

She lowered her head, avoided my eyes, and reluctantly replied, "I don't want to write."

"Why?" I asked her. And as she shrugged her shoulders, I thought of what I had read and learned in Ruth's book and I told her, "You have a story on your heart, and I am here to help you write it."

I think about these students and their hard place stories. I want them to heal. I want them to be able to write a happy ending. And I want to be a part of that healing process.  I can no longer ignore my students' needs or pretend they do not come from hard places or live in fear. Instead, I can take the stories, ideas, and strategies that Ruth has shared in Enticing Hard-to-Reach Wrriters, and give them hope.

This...this is why I NEEDED to read Ruth's book.

Thank you, Ruth, for reminding me of why I became a teacher. Thank you for writing this much needed book and for sharing your children's stories with us. I know I am a much better teacher, writer, and person for having read it.

I leave you with Ruth's inspiring and empowering words:  

"Take the time to see their stories.  
Remember, you have the power to change the course of lives.  
All children deserve to know 
that they can write a different version of their stories."

Stenhouse Publishers has graciously donated two copies of Ruth's book to be given away at EACH stop on the blog tour. Please leave your thoughts about Ruth's book or share your story of enticing writers in the comment section below. Two lucky winners will be selected using a random generator after November 24th at 11:59 EST.
If you purchase a copy of Ruth's book before November 30, 2017, you are eligible for a free registration to her online Enticing Writers Book Club. Email your receipt to to join the fun in January 2018!

Thank you for stopping by today! Check out the entire Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers blog tour. You won't want to miss any of them.


  1. There is probably not a teacher who isn't faced with teaching students who come from hard places. I definitely want to read this book because it seems so relevant to today's classrooms. I love the quote from Ruth - "take the time to see the stories." So important since our students are more than students, readers, writers, etc.. They are whole people with stories to tell.

  2. It was such a privilege to hear Ruth sharing her story and her children’s stories in person at AllWrite. I will always remember those moments. Her voice is so present in her book, too. I spend my school days with many children who are in hard places or have been there. As I was leaving school this afternoon a CPS meeting was going on in the office. I want to hold out hope for a different version of the story,

    1. Hearing Ruth read the introduction will always be etched in my heart and in my memory. It was such a gift.

  3. I love the stories you shared of students in your classroom who come from hard places. Your words are inspiring. I'm hopeful for all the good Ruth's book will provide in the lives of teachers.

  4. As I read your post this morning, Leigh Anne, I was not only moved by your experiences and reflection about your students, but also reminded of the gift our children give us if we are open to listening and helping them with their message. This post is an insightful tribute to Ruth's new book. We are all blessed with Ruth's wisdom and writing. Her honest sharing of her experiences in her new book will inspire many teachers in their work with children. Thank you for an enjoyable read.

  5. I am so thankful you ending with that powerful quote. I am a literacy teacher educator and spend my time teaching teachers how to teach students to read and write. We spend hours on the research, best practices, literacy skills and literacy strategies, but ultimately, I want my teachers to know they can truly change the trajectory of a child's life by teaching them to read and write. I think I finally found the book that will help me show them the true power they hold. Thank you, Ruth, and thank you Leigh Anne, for a wonderful review!

  6. Thank you for sharing about Ruth's book. My husband and I are both teachers and we're entering our break feeling worn out by the combination of overly challenging curriculum and kiddos with such significant needs. I can't wait to dive into her book soon and lean from someone who has really been there and used her love of teaching and kids to encourage us all.

  7. Thank you for sharing, Leigh Anne. I started reading Ruth's book thinking as a teacher, but your post has challenged me to read it for my heart (and my four adopted grandchildren).

  8. I am forever looking for new ways of introducing writing in my middle school library. This book looks like something that I would use! What a wonderful blog tour and chance to get a book. Thanks for the shout out about it on twitter.

  9. Leigh Anne, what a powerful post on an extraordinarily important perspective. I recently read 1st-7th grade student entries for a writing competition with the theme “Showing Your Strength.” What some had endured and overcome was breathtaking and heartrending. I couldn’t help thinking how the writing helped them frame their experiences and that they hopefully found further healing. Again - beautifully powerful post. And the giveaway is fabulous, too!

  10. Thank you for sharing about this book. I'm always touched by what Ruth writes. I look forward to reading more.

  11. Just heard Ruth talk about her book today at #NCTE17. So much power into reaching into the heart of all student stories!

  12. What a nice overview of for this new book that focuses on the whole child and writing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  13. I read this several days ago, but didn't have the chance to comment at that time. I'm so glad I came back to reread this. Your words spoke to me before, but even more now that they've had time to simmer in my heart. Wonderful review!