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A collection of essays relating to the author's experience as a writer of novels for children, and her ideas on children's literature in general. A collection of essays relating to the author's experience as a writer of novels for children, and her ideas on children's literature in general.


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A collection of essays relating to the author's experience as a writer of novels for children, and her ideas on children's literature in general. A collection of essays relating to the author's experience as a writer of novels for children, and her ideas on children's literature in general.

30 review for Gates of Excellence: On Reading and Writing Books for Children

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kristi

    I always loved reading Katherine Paterson's writing. I first read Bridge to Terabithia (one of my all-time favorite books) when my mom told me it was witten by a woman who happens to vacation in the same up-state New York community as our family. I felt connected to Katherine Paterson because of this, and she became a celebrity to me as I grew up (one of my most embarrasing moments involves me getting red-faced and flustered when my mother re-introduced me to her--I was 22). As I became a teache I always loved reading Katherine Paterson's writing. I first read Bridge to Terabithia (one of my all-time favorite books) when my mom told me it was witten by a woman who happens to vacation in the same up-state New York community as our family. I felt connected to Katherine Paterson because of this, and she became a celebrity to me as I grew up (one of my most embarrasing moments involves me getting red-faced and flustered when my mother re-introduced me to her--I was 22). As I became a teacher and studied children's literature, I decided to do a research project on Katherine Paterson when I came across this book. I truly enjoyed reading about her views on reading and writing children's books and realized I had idolized her for good reason. I always felt lucky to come across Katherine Paterson's books at a young age, but after reading this book I realized that I had been blessed to find I woman I respect as well.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michael Fitzgerald

    Some essays are great; other pieces included do not reach that height. Very interesting to learn more about this author and how some of her books came about.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Katie Fitzgerald

    Gates of Excellence: On Reading and Writing Books for Children is a 1981 collection of essays by Newbery author Katherine Paterson in which she reflects upon her work as a children's writer and the reading of children's literature in general. Included in the collection are book reviews and articles Paterson wrote for various publications, as well as newly written pieces for this book and excerpts from her Newbery and National Book Award acceptance speeches. What struck me about this book as comp Gates of Excellence: On Reading and Writing Books for Children is a 1981 collection of essays by Newbery author Katherine Paterson in which she reflects upon her work as a children's writer and the reading of children's literature in general. Included in the collection are book reviews and articles Paterson wrote for various publications, as well as newly written pieces for this book and excerpts from her Newbery and National Book Award acceptance speeches. What struck me about this book as compared with something like Mabel Robinson's Writing for Young People, is that this is decidedly not an instruction manual for becoming a writer. Whereas Robinson and other authors (Gail Carson Levine, for example) use their books on writing to advise aspiring authors, Paterson instead relates her personal experiences, good and bad, and shows how reading and writing children's books has shaped her life. I follow Ms. Paterson's Facebook page and I saw her speak last year at the National Book Festival, and I'm already inclined to like what she has to say. But this book made me appreciate her so much more. One essay in particular, entitled, "Yes, But Is It True?" really resonated with me, especially in light of having recently read Caught Up in a Story: Fostering a Storyformed Life of Great Books & Imagination with Your Children by Sarah Clarkson. Clarkson's book argues that we ought to use good, true, and beautiful stories to help children grow up to be the heroes and heroines God intends them to be. Similarly, in this essay, Paterson discusses stories as sources of truth. She mentions Tolkien and Lewis, and says that "a novel is a kind of conversion experience" in which we see the darkness in ourselves, as Frodo Baggins does, and "recognize our naked selves with a shudder or a laugh." She then ties this exploration of darkness to her writing of The Bridge to Terabithia after the death of her son's real-life friend. She concludes the essay with the statement that "Fiction is not the Gospel. But it can be a voice crying in the wilderness – and for the writer and the reader who know grace it will not be a cry of despair but a cry of hope – a voice crying in our wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord.” I think this is maybe the best description I have read of the way an author's faith can inform his or her writing. For me, this essay is enough reason to own this entire book, and it is something I expect I will revisit many times in the coming years. Overall, I really appreciated the variety of pieces in this book and the insight each article gives into Paterson's inspirations as an author. Her book reviews have added several previously unknown titles to my to-read list, and her own essays have made me want to go back and read more of her original works too, especially some of the older historical fiction. I have always liked Katherine Paterson; this book makes me want to explore her work more deeply. This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.

  4. 5 out of 5

    RAW

    Full of things to think on pertaining to books as story and art. Her devotion to truth, beauty, and love show forth in short essays on what story is and how a reader also brings their story to bear on the book. She brings a strong sense of the Truth also to light in her art and shows how fiction, while not the Gospel is a sign post or a cry of hope in the wilderness. I now need to read and re-read some in her canon.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alana Puskarich

    This is a collection of essays on writng books for children and this might possibly be on the best things I have ever read. It was a very slow read as many of the essays ripped at my heart and sat with me for days. I have not read many of Katherine Paterson's books so I feel like I need to do that at some point, but her writing on writing has been both challenging and incredibly encouraging. I got this from the library and now I need to buy it. This is a collection of essays on writng books for children and this might possibly be on the best things I have ever read. It was a very slow read as many of the essays ripped at my heart and sat with me for days. I have not read many of Katherine Paterson's books so I feel like I need to do that at some point, but her writing on writing has been both challenging and incredibly encouraging. I got this from the library and now I need to buy it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dondevi

    Thoughtful collection of texts! The reflections on writing and the process of creation are profound. This isn't a how to book but rather something more substantial about the process of writing. Must read for all aspiring writers for any genre. Thoughtful collection of texts! The reflections on writing and the process of creation are profound. This isn't a how to book but rather something more substantial about the process of writing. Must read for all aspiring writers for any genre.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Hard book to find but worth the search. The more I read of Katherine Paterson, the more I love her.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ginnie

    a collection of essays. I really enjoyed this book. recommended by Read Aloud Revival podcast.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ashlee

    A collection of essays, speeches, and book reviews written by the great Katherine Paterson – Gates of Excellence is a master class in being a writer of books for children. (Paterson would likely take umbrage with that statement and insist that she is a writer of books that children happen to like and that she is NOT a master.) Taking the stance that children are not silly, mindless creatures to simply be entertained but small humans with troubles and fears all their own, Paterson argues that chi A collection of essays, speeches, and book reviews written by the great Katherine Paterson – Gates of Excellence is a master class in being a writer of books for children. (Paterson would likely take umbrage with that statement and insist that she is a writer of books that children happen to like and that she is NOT a master.) Taking the stance that children are not silly, mindless creatures to simply be entertained but small humans with troubles and fears all their own, Paterson argues that children need literature that addresses those needs, gives them the tools with which to sort out the world in which they live, and, most importantly, gives them hope for the future. Several essays in particular stand out as instructive to those who write for children. “Words” is a powerful exploration of the ways words can empower or marginalize. Drawing on her experiences with a language barrier while living in Japan as an adult, she likens the frustration she experienced at not being able to express herself to her Japanese friends and their misinterpretation of her fractured speaking to the frustration children or the illiterate feel at not being able to fully understand and communicate their wants and needs and opinions. Paterson argues that books for children must be written at a level that will give children the words they need to successfully navigate life; this is not done only by using good words, but by addressing serious issues such as death, unfairness, anger, war, poverty, etc. The essay also stresses the importance of reading (picture books and novels) aloud to children, especially those who struggle with reading, in order to show them that books are sources of enjoyment and enrichment. In “Creativity Limited” Paterson addresses limitations and boundaries, both in terms of the life led by a writer and the form in which they choose to write. Citing questions she often gets about how she finds time to write despite the many demand on her time by her husband and children, Paterson asserts that these “limitations” are the “very boundaries that gave form to my life.” (32) She argues that it is the life lived by the writer that enables them to produce anything, making the limitations and boundaries necessary to creation. The essay then negates the claims of those who suggest that writing for children is limiting. Reviewing such things as reading grade levels and subject matters of her own books against novels for adults, she shows that such claims are poorly made. She does, however, outline four limitations that she feels gives form to children’s books (early or middle grade readers): 1. They must tell a story; 2. Length (less than 200 pages); 3. Intricacy/density/design (plot and writing cannot be too complicated); 4. Readers must be able to care about the characters. For her own writing, Paterson adds one last limitation – the ending must not leave the reader in despair, but give them hope to move forward through life. “In Search of a Story” explores the importance of the story’s setting, and ways it can determine plot and characters; this demands attention and appropriate research. Paterson exposes much of her passion, process, struggles, and expectations throughout the book. It is readable and inspiring without being preachy; aspiring (and seasoned) writers will find gems of advice throughout on how to best practice the craft of writing for children.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karen Mcintyre

    I loved Katherine Patterson long before I knew anything about her person journey, but I suppose to love an author is to - at least in part recognize that their journey brought them to write the text that we love. This book is about both the process of reading and of writing for young people. I bought it long before I thought about writing for anyone -- but myself! I bought it to find out what motivated her. And what a right tapestry of life's stories are woven into her works. She spoke to my cal I loved Katherine Patterson long before I knew anything about her person journey, but I suppose to love an author is to - at least in part recognize that their journey brought them to write the text that we love. This book is about both the process of reading and of writing for young people. I bought it long before I thought about writing for anyone -- but myself! I bought it to find out what motivated her. And what a right tapestry of life's stories are woven into her works. She spoke to my calling as a librarian to give children words, words organized into deep thoughts. This is a collection of writings and addresses which Ms. Patterson collected nad published as unit a sort of a manifesto of what she believes a good childrens writer is about. We need to force every teacher read this book. We need to make the reading of books one of the criteria in hiring educators, and we need people to love words, wisdom, and their pursuit. Ms. Paterson loves all three!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I am not very familiar w/ Katherine Paterson unfortunately. I have only read Jacob Have I Loved. HOWEVER this book about writing for children is AWESOME. It is a collection of her book reviews, conference talks, and essays and relates many sound philosophies and analogies for life. So far sooo good.:)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    Very good guide to writing for children, but actually a decent "how to" writing guide in general. It's short and funny. I enjoyed the author's fiction as a kid (heck, I still occasionally read Jacob Have I Loved), and that same voice shines through in this book like an old friend. Very good guide to writing for children, but actually a decent "how to" writing guide in general. It's short and funny. I enjoyed the author's fiction as a kid (heck, I still occasionally read Jacob Have I Loved), and that same voice shines through in this book like an old friend.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Wonderful bits of wisdom, honesty and hope.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Bloser

    I am thoroughly enjoying her book. I like her writing style and intend to read one of her novels.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    I used this book in my Children's Literature Class - spring 2009. It is an excellent resource, so I bought it for my home MLS resource library. I used this book in my Children's Literature Class - spring 2009. It is an excellent resource, so I bought it for my home MLS resource library.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    excellent

  17. 5 out of 5

    Debby Zigenis-Lowery

  18. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

  19. 4 out of 5

    Grete Telander

  20. 5 out of 5

    Karen

  21. 4 out of 5

    Faith Hough

  22. 4 out of 5

    Monica Sharman

  23. 5 out of 5

    Karen

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sophia

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jean

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  28. 4 out of 5

    Heila

  29. 5 out of 5

    Josh

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kate Rice McHugh

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