Lit Kid: storytelling through letters

Junior Reader is starting to experiment more with lots of different types of writing.

Whether it’s the bedroom door sign – ‘Keep out! – the written refusal to comply with a parental request, or a kingly proclamation (on a scroll), I enjoy seeing them coming.

Variety is a good thing in children’s books, as elsewhere. And letter-writing as a way to tell stories can work well.

Here are three in our collection that do just that.

Click Clack Moo – Doreen Cronin, Betsy Lewin

This one is a bit of a classic. It’s not just about letter writing – or even letter typing – it’s an introduction to politics.

The animals in the farm are not entirely happy with their lot. So they start to spell it out for Farmer Brown by typing him notes about what they feel would improve things – say, electric blankets for the barn.

Farmer Brown tries to push back against the demands – and triggers a full-on election situation.

Look out for Duck, the go-between character in this story, who appears again in Vote for Duck!, a brilliant introduction to the US political voting system.

Both are great examples of children’s books that include much more ‘grown-up’ situations – explained with the lightness of touch that a really good children’s book can offer.

Love from Louisa – Simon Puttock, Jo Kiddie

This is an early introduction for your junior readers to the ‘Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells’ style of letter. As with the real-life version, the joke is more clearly on the one doing the letter writing.

Louisa is a pig, also on a farm, and equally unhappy with the conditions there. Her solution is handwritten notes, torn from reporters’ notebooks, all signed off:

‘Sincerely, Disgruntled!’

Farmer Giles is prepared to act on the suggestions much more than Farmer Brown, but even he has had enough after a while – and turns the tables on Disgruntled by asking him/her┬áto clear up the mess.

There’s another twist in the tale after that, but I’ll leave you to discover that one for yourself.

What I quite enjoy is that Louisa is clearly having more fun writing uppity letters than appreciating what Farmer Brown is doing. Whether or not she changes her tune in the end is left open, which also seems appropriate.

Wolves – Emily Gravett

Rabbit borrows a library book to find out about wolves, and discovers a bit more than he has bargained on…

This was Gravett’s first book, and a huge success, leading her to write various more, and illustrate on others. Her humour is sly and revealed gradually as the book unfolds.

Part of the delight of this book is the various internal writing devices – letters you can remove from the book, library book descriptions, and so on. There are also two endings, so you can choose which one you (or your audience) prefer.

As with my previous recommendation of a book with wolves as characters, you may well want to look this one over before sharing it with your junior readers.

However, for those who like a joke, and particularly slightly older readers who can identify the various types of writing at the end, and what they mean, this book is great fun, and may well spark some writing ideas for your own junior writers.

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