fbpx
5 Things to Know About Writing Your Second Novel (and one bonus tip!)

5 Things to Know About Writing Your Second Novel (and one bonus tip!)

There’s a lot of talk on the internet at present about the bind that debut authors find themselves in, trying to launch their first book when the usual things like launch parties, author talks, writers’ festival and other literary fun are not available.

And it’s been lovely to watch the author community throw itself behind those debut authors, trying to boost their launches online.

But what if it’s your second novel?

Second novels bring their own set of challenges, right from the moment the author types ‘Chapter One’ and then watches the cursor blink and blink and blink.

And now there’s the challenge of getting the word out about your book; hoping that your established readers find it, hoping that it will find its way into the hands of reviewers and bloggers.

Because the reality is that the biggest marketing push you’ll ever receive from your publisher is likely to be around your debut novel. That’s the moment of discovery, of excitement, of ‘could this author be the next big thing?”

After that, it’s one word at a time, one reader at a time, building on the foundations that are set up around that novel.

One author who knows all about this is Lauren Chater, whose debut historical novel The Lace Weaver was published in March 2019 and went on to become a bestseller.

Then Lauren had to write a second one, and discovered, as she shares below, that Second Novel Syndrome is real.

These are her tips for writing your way through it, which Lauren did, producing a second beautiful historical novel called Gulliver’s Wife.

5 things to know about writing your second novel 

After publishing their first book, most authors experience a strange sense of loss. The excitement of the launch and all the accolades that go along with it can trick us into thinking that if things aren’t constantly happening, we aren’t making progress in our career. It can leave us feeling as if the world has moved on and left us behind.

More experienced authors will tell you that the antidote is to ‘write the next book’. This is sensible advice but following it can prove tricky – as I learnt when I set about working on my second novel, due for release on April 1st this year (but popping up in shops and online already!).

Here are my tips for surviving the dreaded second novel syndrome (and getting through to the other side with your sanity mostly intact).

Lower your expectations

Your first draft will be bad. It won’t matter that you have written and published a book before. It won’t matter that you’ve read widely or done workshops or undertaken mentorships.

When you start writing another book, all the skills you thought you’d mastered the first time around will mysteriously vanish and you’ll be left facing the same challenges which plague most writers: self-doubt, procrastination and the fear of rejection.

Only by overcoming these difficulties can you elevate your book to a publishable standard and one of the best ways to achieve this is to let go of the idea of perfection and allow yourself to write a really shitty draft (or two).

At the end of the day, the truth is that published or not, we are all novices of the craft but with each book we write, we will hopefully get faster and better at editing ourselves.

Read (everything)

I know some authors dislike reading books by other authors while they’re working on a novel but I find it reassuring.

While I was writing Gulliver’s Wife, I read both fiction and non-fiction. There are so many moments of self-doubt during the writing process that I found it incredibly comforting to know that other authors forged through the dark, difficult hours and reached the other side.

There’s also the added bonus of picking up tips on structure, voice and rhythm from some of the best in the business.

Trust your editor

This one is so important. Your editor is your best friend, whether you know it or not. They can tell you what’s working and what isn’t and like any best friend, they keep all your secrets (aka your bad prose) and never reveal those secrets to anybody else!

Because of the way publishing schedules work, you will probably have less time to polish your next book to the same level you did with your debut novel (assuming you have a contract).

On the plus side, the second time around you’ll have a working relationship with an editor who has years of experience under her belt. Listen to your editor, trust their advice. They know what they’re talking about.

Resist the hype

The first time you write a book, it’s as if you’re living inside a beautiful bubble.

Then your book gets published and suddenly, you’re painfully aware of so many things you never knew about – how sales are tracking in Neilsen Bookscan, the nervous energy/terror that comes from delivering a talk in front of dozens of people at a book festival, the importance of advance reviews.

All of these things come with their own challenges. But perhaps the most challenging thing to wrap your head around is the sudden weight of expectation – the perception that you, as an author, now have a readership and a publisher who are counting on you to deliver the goods – again.

Paradoxically, in order to write well, second-time authors need to forget that those pressures exist. You can’t create something brave and beautiful if you’re worrying too much about what others think.

My advice is to write what you’re passionate about. Remember why you wanted to tell this story and try to forget about external pressures. You’ll be glad you did!

Share with others

Now that you’re a seasoned professional (ha!) and have some experience with the editing process, you might want to consider sharing your work with a group of trusted readers or your writing group (if you have one).

When I first started writing, I found it hard to accept feedback about my work. Everything felt very raw and while I appreciated my friend’s feedback, there was always this voice of doubt sitting at the back of my mind, telling me I would never be able to produce anything better. Of course, I know now that voice is a liar.

Asking for feedback is not only a fantastic way of improving your work, it’s kind of liberating. What? I hear you ask. How can having someone scribble in red pen all over your lovingly crafted prose make you feel better and not worse?

Well, you’ll just have to trust me when I say that starting over – again and again and again – actually builds up your sense of confidence. Every time you kill one of those writing darlings that made you sound clever/insightful/talented, you show that doubting voice how much you are prepared to sacrifice for the good of the story and how confident you are in your ability to make more.

Asking for feedback from members of your writing group is a great way to shortcut this process. And let’s face it, nobody is going to be harsher on us than our editor anyway…

Bonus tip!

My final tip for pushing through the hard yards of Book 2.0 is to make sure you give back to the literary community.

One of the wonderful things to come out of publishing a book is how the process exposes you to artists, editors, writers and creators.

The industry is often kind to debut novelists (thank you!) and writing festivals, book launches and online media channels are all great ways to meet people who understand exactly what you’re going through.

When it comes to writing your second book, this community becomes even more vital. So make sure you’re giving as well as taking. Buy books by Australian authors, cheer on their success and send messages of support.

When it’s time to celebrate the publication of your second book, these people will be the ones cheering for you!

Lauren Chater’s latest novel, Gulliver’s Wife, is out now. It tells the story of Mary Burton Gulliver, midwife and herbalist, whose husband is lost at sea… and returns three years later, fevered and talking in riddles. Find out more about Lauren and her books here.

 

 

 

Would you love more writing tips and advice? Check out my book So You Want To Be A Writer: How To Get Started (While You Still Have A Day Job), co-authored with Valerie Khoo and based on our top-rating podcast.

Buy it here!

Writing For Kids: How to write funny stories

Writing For Kids: How to write funny stories

Writing tips for kids: How to write funny stories | allisontait.comLast year, I wrote my first-ever funny story for publication in Total Quack Up Again, an anthology of funny stories in support of Dymock’s Children’s Charities. Regular readers might remember this post about the experience.

One of the editors of the anthology was Adrian Beck who, along with Sally Rippin, did a brilliant job of assembling a line-up of some of Australia’s top children’s authors to donate a story for the project, as well as writing his own.

So when it came time to find someone to write me a guest post full of amazing tips for kids who want to write funny stories, Adrian was my go-to guy.

As well as his work with Quack Up, Adrian writes funny action-packed adventure stories for kids, the latest of which is Derek Dool Super Cool: Bust A Move, the first in a brand new series, illustrated by Scott Edgar, about a kid who is desperate to be SUPERCOOL.

If anyone knows how to find the funny, it’s Adrian Beck.

Just read his tips and you’ll see…

HOW TO WRITE FUNNY STORIES AND DOMINATE AT LIFE

Okay, so you’ve decided to write a comedic masterpiece. All of us are funny in our own way, right? As an added bonus, some of us are also funny looking (I’m a redhead, for instance), so this whole thing should be a cinch!

Well, yes.

But also NO!

But also YES, especially if you follow my nine and a half tips for FINDING the FUNNY!

1. Reveal your deepest darkest secrets! And use them in your stories. That’s the thing about writing – you can pretend that you just ‘made it all up’, when secretly it’s based on reality.

Did you know that Jacqueline Harvey is actually a seven-year old-girl in boarding school, or that Hazel Edwards keeps a hippo on her roof or that Andy Griffith’s bum really does go psycho?

Think of the most embarrassing things that have ever happened to you. Remember how they made you feel. Then exaggerate!

2. Put yourself in a funny mood. Read other funny books, listen to funny music and watch funny TV shows.

When I was writing the first Derek Dool book, I listened to 1980s band Madness nonstop. Their songs like, ‘Baggy Trousers’ and ‘House of Fun’ always get me in a silly mood. (Well, sillier mood).

Plus, I binge-watched some of my favourite 1990s British sitcoms. All just to stay in the ‘funny zone’… And so that I can claim Netflix on tax.

3. I’ve come up with a totally original theory that I like to call the Big Bang Theory. I should trademark it. The gist is, you’ve got to start with a big bang! Set the tone early with a strong joke that indicates the style of the story to come. Forget all the flowery scene setting stuff.

Then, once you’ve started with a bang, keep the jokes coming. Most sitcoms try to include around six jokes a minute. I keep this in mind when rewriting and I try to maintain regular laughs. As most doctors will tell you, it’s good to stay regular.

4. Don’t be too cool for school. Funny stories don’t tend to get the praise that other stories get. So abandon all ambitions to win prizes. You’ll probably never be seen as the literary genius you truly are. But that’s okay. This means you can loosen up!

Therefore, why not embrace sound effects? Here are three hilarious noises you can use free of charge: Pffffffft! Rrrrrrreeep! Ffffwhoooooootha-plop!

5. Avoid bad adult advice! I call that BADult advice. Most adults are BORING! They wear long pants and think too much about mortgages and avoiding carbohydrates. Sometimes it’s best NOT to listen to them. Adults don’t have the same sense of humour as kids.

So go straight to the source and test your work on your target audience. They are always refreshingly honest.

6. Read it aloud. To kids if possible (see tip 5). There’s no better way to check if something is working than hearing it with your own ears. If possible, it’s even better to get someone to read it to you, like David Walliams. Although he can make most things sound funny so always take his performances with a grain of salt.

7. Create a kooky character. Now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty. Whatever that is. But, trust me, it will make your funny story easier to write if you come up with an extreme character.

Then use the tried-and-true device of a putting your character at odds with their situation. Make it the opposite to the norm. Eg a doctor who hates the sight of blood, a teacher who can’t stand kids, or a writer who makes lots of money.

8. Steal. Your friends have probably told you a story or two about the funny things that have happened to them. STEAL THESE STORIES!

But… and this is a big BUT (cos I like big buts and I cannot lie) change the story enough so that you make it your own.

Have a think about why their anecdote made you laugh and try to use that formula again and again.

9. Trust your first reaction. Once you’ve read something over and over you can begin to forget that it’s funny. You start questioning yourself: ‘Is this joke actually making me laugh?’ ‘Am I funny at all?’ ‘Would I like fries with that?’

These questions are not helpful. You ARE funny. Accept it. And you WOULD like fries with that.

9.5. Lastly, always – and as a redhead I cannot stress this enough – always wear sunscreen.

Now you have my nine and a half tips for FINDING the FUNNY, go forth and write your masterpiece! All I ask is that you please spell my name correctly in your dedication.

Derek Dool Supercool: Bust A Move by Adrian Beck (illustrated by Scott Edgar) is out on 3 March through Puffin Books.

Find out more about Adrian Beck here. 

More writing tips for kids:

How to create remarkable characters

How to be more creative

The secret to a great story

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here. If you’d like to learn more about writing from me, have a look at my Creative Writing Quest For Kids, an online course that takes you through the process of writing a great story from start to finish.

20 tried-and-tested books for 13/14-year-old girls

20 tried-and-tested books for 13/14-year-old girls

As a parent, it comes as no surprise to me that the most popular posts on my entire website by a country mile are these two:

21 tried-and-tested books for 13/14-year-old boys

15 more tried-and-tested books for 13/14-year-old boys (+ 13 expert choices)

Books for teens are hard! By the time we get to this point, the homogeneity of the Wimpy Kid/Treehouse years are well-and-truly behind us and kids splinter off, some diving headfirst into particular genres, some leap-frogging over YA into adult books, some putting books aside in favour of other pursuits.

But parents, teachers, librarians, friends, aunts, uncles and other interested parties do not give up trying to put quality, engaging reads into their kids’ hands. I know this because the Your Kid’s Next Read community is full of such parties, enquiring about books for their voracious readers, their reluctant readers and their over- or underwhelmed readers.

One such group that’s getting a lot of attention at present in the YKNR community are girls aged 13 and 14, particularly with Christmas on the way and parents keen to find just the right book for the teen in their lives.

To help, I turned to one of the most engaged and interested readers that I know, the lovely Jazzy of the Jazzy’s Bookshelf blog. Jazzy is 14 and is an experienced, thoughtful book reviewer, having maintained her blog since she was nine years old. She is also a fellow MS Readathon ambassador so she knows a thing or two about books and the power of reading.

I asked Jazzy to nominate brilliant books for 13/14-year-old-girls and she not only came up with ten terrific picks of her own, but canvassed her friends for 10 others to round out the selection.

Take it away Jazzy!

20 tried-and-tested books for 13/14-year-old girls

It Sounded Better in my Head by Nina Kenwood

Natalie is an 18-year-old girl who has just come out of school, with recently separated parents. She despises her appearance and has a skin disorder. She judges herself extremely harshly, which means that when problems keep piling onto her – the divorce, her first romance and friendship troubles – she can’t deal. What good could possibly come out of this?

I loved this book. The author Nina Kenwood has done a fantastic job in building Natalie’s character in a fascinating way, so I will be looking out for more of her novels in the future. I recommend it to anyone looking for a good laugh.

Read Jazzy’s full review.

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

When Lex’s brother Ty took his life, her entire world took a drastic turn for the worse. Lex’s mother turns to alcohol and both mourn Ty’s loss miserably. Lex breaks up with her boyfriend and pretends nothing is wrong; but within, she is a complete wreck.

Only the most amazing book would make me emotional and this novel certainly achieved just that. It was so realistic and heartbreaking. If you read this book, expect to get teary…

Read Jazzy’s full review.

Everless by Sara Holland

Imagine a time where blood is life’s currency. Where you can survive for hundreds of years – or die in your 20s.

Seventeen-year-old Jules Ember and her father lead miserable lives; they exist in a world where blood is money. The Gerlings rule, outliving others by melting blood coins into their drinks. Rent is payed through these coins and Jules and her father are behind on rent.

In an attempt to escape the relentless assault of poverty, Jules ignores her father’s warning and seeks work at Everless, the Gerlings’ palace. Jules discovers their merciless, greedy ways and uncovers some truths about herself.

Everless is an intense dystopian novel that keeps you gripped until the last page. I was entranced by Sara Holland’s style of writing, particularly the way she weaves detail into the story. It made Everless a lot more enjoyable and painted vivid imagery inside my mind.

Read Jazzy’s full review.

Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

In the midst of a horrifying drought, 16-year-old Alyssa Morrow’s life is turned up-side-down from “The Tap-Out”. With water a rare commodity and her small Californian town rife with violence and crime, Alyssa is forced out of her house.

To avoid death by dehydration, she hits the road with her brother and the “freak” who lives next door. Picking up strangers on the way and watching the thirst bring out the worst in people, two questions remain; how long can they survive without water and where can they find it?

I enjoyed Dry because of the plausibility of the situation happening in real life. I was delighted by the way the tone constantly changed throughout the story; there were nail-biting scenes, sad moments and humorous parts.

Read Jazzy’s full review.

The Beauty is in the Walking by James Moloney

Jacob O’Leary of Palmerston is forced to live with cerebral palsy and is desperately waiting for a chance to prove himself. When livestock are murdered in his small Australian town, a newcomer is unfairly blamed and Jacob seizes the moment to fight for justice. Will he solve the Palmerston case, or fail and be forever ridiculed?

This is an entertaining and inspirational read and I admired how many obstacles Jacob overcomes. He experiences great personal growth and doesn’t give up on his fight for righteousness.

Read Jazzy’s full review.

The Anger of Angels by Sherryl Jordan

In medieval times a jester performs his new play, The Anger of Angels, which ridicules the Prince of Goretti. At the same time, his 17-year-old daughter Giovanna meets Raffaele and falls madly in love with him.

The play has dire consequences, wreaking havoc in everyone’s lives. People are dying and the prince is blackmailing the jester in order to get a hold of the script. Giovanna is forced to travel to Goretti and hand it over so as to stop the misery it is causing.

With love in the air and separation anxiety from her papa, Giovanna feels great pressure to complete her mission. The prince promises not to kill her, but Giovanna is untrusting. Will the prince be true to his word?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Anger of Angels. It is well-written and kept me hooked until the end. I would definitely vouch for this book if someone was looking for a medieval romance.

Read Jazzy’s full review.

Don’t Stop Thinking about Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham

Fourteen-year-old Stevie is having it rough. Her dad has passed away, leaving her mum severely depressed so she is unable to work. Stevie has a passion for her dad’s music and that is what gets her by in tough times.

Hafiz is a football-loving refugee from Syria. After his friend is hurt in a terrifying accident, Hafiz’s parents had to send him away. He has been mistreated on the boat journey and arrives, scarred, in the UK.

Can these teens from two different worlds solve their problems together?

This is a thoughtful and utterly beautiful story of friendship that is literally begging for a sequel (or even better, a prequel).

Read Jazzy’s full review.

The Wonder of Us by Kim Culbertson

Riya and Abby are inseparable friends. They part when Riya moves from California to Germany. During that time, Abby’s parents divorce and she is left unsure of herself and upset. The next year, Riya invites her to fly to Europe and tour the main cities and towns, together. However, they seem more distant than ever and there now are hidden secrets between them…

I think this is an interesting novel. It has all of the elements of a good narrative drama – wonderfully-developed characters, romance, friendship and personal growth.

Read Jazzy’s full review.

Scythe by Neil Shusterman

In the future, technology has advanced – perhaps too much. Death is nearly inexistent, and pain is reduced. The only way to die is through a Scythe – which are cloaked, weapon-wielding killers appointed by the government as an attempt to stop overpopulation. Some scythes are compassionate and feel empathy for the people they glean (kill), while others are the complete opposite, and glean for fun.

For Citra and Rowan, being chosen to be apprentices to the same scythe is just the beginning of the journey of potential love, loss and murder.

I absolutely loved the futuristic ideas in this book, especially about death – I believe that one day, death could possibly be defeated, and this novel further explores this and the possible solutions.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Maddy is an 18-year old girl who has been kept inside for the majority of her life. The reason? She has a disease that could kill her if she is exposed to germs from the outside world.

Every day seems exactly the same as the last until a family moves in next door – with a son named Olly. Maddy liked him from the moment she saw him, but how can she ever see him – let alone fall in love with him – if she’s trapped inside her own home?

This beautiful romance is filled with real empathy and emotion.

Jazzy’s friends recommend

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

When talking about this book, there are so many things that can be said: the amazing writing, the plot that keeps you on your seat for the entirety of the book or the fact that once started you simply can’t put it down.

The real hero of this book, though, is the character: Celaena Sardothien is a character to whom you not only connect but who inspires the best in everyone and shows how bravery in the face of danger is one of the most important aspect of someone’s personality.

The author perfectly combines the use of tension throughout the book through the third person perspective and creatures that would scare anyone, as well as showing the lengths people will go through to get what they want. In a nutshell, betrayal, murder, romance, and an amazing storyline – what else could you need? –Abby, age 14

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

In fantasy books especially, I have always had a love for books that merge the world of magic with the mortal world and this book achieves it perfectly. Skulduggery Pleasant and Stephanie Edgley are the perfect team with a mixture of witty humour and the kickass fighting we all know and love.

The suspense created throughout the book is amazing and the characters truly made the book as enjoyable as it is with them being able to make you laugh one minute, and cry the next.

Although I could talk about this book for hours, overall, it is, and always will be, one of my most favourite books of all time and I suggest all teenagers to try this one on for size. –Abby, age 14

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Now, I could read this book over 20 times and I still would get shocked by the betrayal and romance that appears in the book. Jude is one of those characters which you cannot help but admire as she battles through hardships that most people wouldn’t be able to go through, showing how, even in an unknown world with everything stacked against you, being intelligent can be one of the only factors which keeps you alive. Her determination to do what she believes is right will have you cheering for her!

This is a book which I highly recommend as it blurs the line between the mortal world and the Fae Lands, right and wrong, and betrayal and romance, in total must-read. –Abby, age 14

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

This is the third book of the Harry Potter series. Throughout the series, we see the adventures of a boy who goes to a school for people who are born wizards and witches. In the school, they learn how to use their powers as well as being able to contain them in certain situations. The school also prepares them in using their powers as defence mechanisms against wizards who wish to abuse their magical powers for selfish reasons. One of these wizards is Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter alongside his friends has been trying to stop Voldemort from his schemes.

The series mainly focusses around the Harry and Voldemort rivalry, however, the Prisoner of Azkaban gives us an opportunity to dive into the life of Harry’s family. It gives an opening to a side plots that in the end, contributes to the main plot. It has a fresh story in it that gives us a break from a repetitive cycle of Voldemort planning something and Harry trying to stop him and it makes the overall plot rich in complexity. –Sarvani, age 14

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This book is a historical fiction set in a time where Hitler was gaining power over Germany. The main focus of the story is about what an average life of a young girl living in this time would look like. The girl has endured much tragedy and suffering in her life and in the book, we see her live through it and how she deals and copes with the pain she’s going through.

The book is written in a fresh perspective as well, as there are other plots that all come together in the end, like a puzzle. This book makes you burn with curiosity as the story fits together. –Sarvani, age 14

Series of Unfortunate events by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)

This book follows the story of three children who lost their parents in a fire. Their parents left them a massive fortune but a greedy man intends to steal it. In each book, the children go from place to place, and the families they live with try to protect them from this man, however, the children are mostly left to themselves.

Throughout the course of the series, they learn more about their history and the death of their parents. The books make us see things from a wide view. While the children’s perspective is what the book focusses on, it shows that there are always two sides of a story.

While reading the series, there are some good morals that can be carried in real life situations. It teaches us to work with our skill sets and the spirit and hope that can be achieved by solving problems rather than brooding on them. –Sarvani, age 14

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

This book is in the science fiction genre. Regardless of this, the book is written in such a way that anyone can enjoy the book even if they don’t have a scientific background or previous knowledge. Humour is a big part of the book as some of the characters in the book are present for comedic relief.

It follows the adventures of man who is the only survivor of the Earth blowing up and he goes along with some beings from other planets and ends up having a tour of space. The concepts of science in the book are basic and are explained in an understandable manner.

This book also makes you appreciate the real wonders of the universe. There are numerous take home lessons that we learn throughout the course of the book and we see the characters develop from beginning to end as they learn these lessons. –Sarvani, age 14

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar by Roald Dahl

This is about the story of a rich man called Henry Sugar who’s wrapped up in his own world. He’s played poker and gambled in some of the biggest bars and hotels in the world. The day comes where he finds a doctor’s report on Imraat Khan, the man who could see without his eyes. Here, we are now thrown into another story on the journey of this man and how he came to achieve this.

The thoughts of Henry Sugar during this are made known to us, and we see that he has learned the values of finding an inner whole to yourself. His character develops from a shallow man to having a personality with depth and full of experience. The book tells a story in a way that in some moments, we can relate to Henry in learning these lessons.

This book is one of the few books that can build on your own character as you see things from both Imraat Khan’s perspective and Henry’s. –Sarvani, age 14

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

Babysitting younger siblings is one of the most arduous and tedious tasks that one must perform, however, for Che Taylor, a 17-year-old Australian boy, his duties are more difficult than most. Che’s parents are constantly moving them around the world for their work, leaving behind sporting clubs, schools, family and friends.

With the parentals away more than at home, Che is looking after his sister – a smart, talented, pretty girl; a psychopath. With dreams of his own, Che must balance his life with his sister’s trying to protect her from the world and protect the world from her dark and complex games.

With romance, competitions, friendships, family relationships, and the dark world a young psychopathic girl, this book is impossible to put down – a different twist at the turn of every page. –Molly, age 14

Something In Between by Melissa De La Cruz

Jasmine de los Santos has always done everything right. Popular, beautiful cheerleader with her life together more than most teenage girls, she had studied hard and was ready to reap the rewards of a full college scholarship. Then her whole world falls apart.

Being invited to a national awards night finally pushed her parents to reveal the truth; their visas had expired years ago. Her family was illegal. Everything Jasmine had worked for was out of the picture as the major threat of deportation loomed over her head every second of the day.

For the first time in her life, Jasmine does all the teen things she never had the opportunity to do in the past as she tries to discover where and even if she fits in to the American dream at all.

This is an extraordinary novel about family, friendship, romance and the determination to stay in a country that is trying to deport you. – Molly, age 14

Thank you Jazzy, Abby, Sarvani and Molly!

*Click on the title of each book to learn more about it or to buy on Booktopia

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

 You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here

 

10 growth mindset books for kids

10 growth mindset books for kids

10 fiction books to help kids develop growth mindset | allisontait.comThere would be few parents who haven’t, over the past few years, heard the term ‘growth mindset’.

It’s one of those phrases that seems to have blasted its way across the internet like a tumbleweed, gathering pace and size as it moves, leaving an entire library of ‘how to’ books in its wake.

But the presence of growth mindset in fiction is less often discussed.

Today, in the author spotlight for the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook group, author Tahnee McShane shares some thoughts about this – and a great list of children’s fiction featuring Growth Mindset.

Take it away Tahnee!

Growth mindset: why we need to see it in children’s fiction

By now I expect you’ve heard of growth mindset. To be honest, I was a sceptic when the topic was first introduced to me: I thought it was just resilience re-branded. And to a certain degree, it is.

However, through my work with children and discussions with teachers and parents over the last decade, I have come to realise how important this mindset is for the future of our children.

We all approach everything with a mindset. Put simply, this is our attitude with which we approach different situations in life. The opposite of growth mindset is fixed mindset.

What is fixed mindset?

A fixed mindset is becoming increasingly common in the younger generations and there are plenty of theories as to why (helicopter parents, snowplough parents, social media).

In the classroom, a fixed mindset rears its ugly head in children across all age groups and ability levels.

There are students in prep, who will refuse to dance, because “I don’t dance.”

Students who “aren’t good at maths,” and therefore refuse to try.

The increased appetite and expectation for instant gratification means that children often just want to find the right answer, regardless of how they come about it. Students are willing to simply correct their answer without question or without discussion. Without learning.

To combat the limiting impact of fixed mindset, we can teach growth mindset.

What is growth mindset?

It gives students the skills to overcome their problems. Growth-mindset gives us confidence and the courage to try, fail and try again. Students learn that challenges are exciting because we are learning and bettering ourselves.  We teach students not to pigeon-hole themselves. We teach them to say ‘yet’.

So what does this have to do with fiction?

As both an author and a teacher, I strongly feel that we can turn toward fiction as a guide for teaching a growth mindset in our children.

The good news is we don’t need to look for a specialised series on growth mindset when we want to introduce this concept to children at home or in the classroom. Many of our favourite children’s books portray characters with growth mindset.

You don’t have to turn far in the fiction world to see characters who encounter a problem, struggle, grow and then overcome their problem. It’s formulaic.

But when children read fiction where the characters make mistakes, or where bad things happen – it’s a reflection of real life. This is where we learn the life skills of grit and determination.

Reading with children and discussing the story is the best way for young children to learn about and manifest these qualities in their own lives.

For older readers, strong characters can make a lasting impression that they can take with them into adulthood.

10 fiction books to help kids develop a growth mindset

I’ve put together a list of children’s fiction books that show characters with a growth mindset. These are characters with a love of learning, curiosity, the ability to learn from their mistakes, and creativity.

Tashi by Anna Fienberg (ill Kim Gamble)

The Digging-est Dog by Al Perkins (ill Eric Gurney)

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

Superworm by Julia Donaldson (ill Axel Scheffler)

Koala Lou by Mem Fox (ill Pamela Lofts)

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty (ill David Roberts)

Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg

The Cow Tripped Over The Moon by Tony Wilson

Annabel and Turtle by Tahnee McShane (ill Mary-Ann Orchard)

Why growth mindset in fiction matters

Mem Fox’s character Koala Lou is a great example of growth mindset. Koala Lou is absolutely determined to win the tree climbing event in the Bush Olympics. She practices her skills daily and enters the games. Of course, Koala Lou is devastated when she doesn’t win the tree climbing event.

This is reflective of real life. We don’t always win everything even when we try our best.

And I think it’s a message that’s necessary in today’s culture. Being proud of growth, whilst also understanding that failure is more than okay – it’s necessary for growth.

Using strong characters who display growth mindset as role models for children will help them to develop skills in resilience, and an appreciation for lifelong learning, both of which will enable our next generation to confidently conquer whatever challenges crop up for them in the years to come.

Tahnee McShane is the author of Annabel and Turtle a children’s book and podcast series, for children aged 2 to 8.

Tahnee is also a teacher and mother, and lives in Tasmania with her husband and three children. Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram and find the podcast on Spotify and Soundcloud.

 

 

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

 You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

10+ GGSD (Girls Getting Stuff Done) Middle-Grade Reads

10+ GGSD (Girls Getting Stuff Done) Middle-Grade Reads

10+ GGSD (Girls Getting Stuff Done) Middle Grade Reads | allisontait.com “Very few writers really know what they are doing until they’ve done it.”

Anne Lamott’s quote has always resonated with me for two reasons. One is that you don’t really know how to write a book until you get in there and write one.

The second is that sometimes you don’t even realise what you’ve written until you reach The End – and, even then, sometimes not until someone else tells you.

In the spotlight today is my good friend Allison Rushby, the author of many books for children, YA and adults, who can also relate to this quote.

Discovering what you’ve really written

When The Turnkey was released in 2017, I was overjoyed with the reviews it received – until  one stopped me in my tracks.

The reviewer called The Turnkey “surreptitiously feminist” and I found myself reading her review over and over again, because it made me think A LOT about exactly what it was that I’d written.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the review in question was a lovely one (you can read it in its entirety here). In her review, one of the main points the reviewer makes is that, throughout the novel, Flossie remains in charge.

No older male steps in to tell her what to do, or how to save the day. Rather, she’s put in charge of large groups of men, including soldiers, and these men all happily report back to her as she works out how she’s going to save her cemetery and country.

At the time of reading this eye-opening review, I was finishing up the first draft of The Seven Keys (the second book in The Turnkey series, released this month with Walker Books Australia). I began to ask myself if what I was writing was also “surreptitiously feminist”…

I didn’t have to ponder this question long. There was nothing “surreptitious” about it. By the end of The Seven Keys, almost every key role in London’s twilight world is filled by a female character. The Seven Keys is just flat-out feminist.

When it comes to the portrayal of females in others’ work, I wasn’t surprised to find that a lot of the middle-grade fiction I connect with also has strong female protagonists. I do so love a good go-getting heroine. A girl who GSD (Gets Stuff Done) just like Flossie and her friends do in The Turnkey and The Seven Keys.

With this in mind, I came up with a list of some of my favourite GGSD (Girls Getting Stuff Done) middle-grade/upper-middle-grade reads that I hope you and your little reader love as much as I do.

10+ GGSD (Girls Getting Stuff Done) Middle Grade reads

Out Of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Melody’s body might not be strong (she has cerebral palsy), but her mind is fierce. She’s on a one woman mission to let her classmates know just how smart she really is.

The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley

Ada’s fight for self-worth and a life to call her own is absolutely heartbreaking, as is her carer’s backstory of love and the loss of her partner. Together, these strong-willed characters manage to help each other strive for a happy ever after.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The star of the show is Ivan (a caged gorilla who lives in a shopping mall), but clear-eyed Julia, the custodian’s daughter, is underrated in this tale. Her actions and courage will stay with you for a long time.

The Ateban Cipher series by A.L. Tait

In a world of monks and a stolen illuminated text, it takes a couple of smart girls to get in there, work out what’s going on and begin to set things to rights.

The Family with Two Front Doors by Anna Ciddor

Set in 1920s Poland and centred on a very religious Jewish family, this might seem a strange choice, but the historical setting and different way of life provides so much to discuss from a feminist perspective.

Everything I’ve Never Said by Samantha Wheeler

Ava is desperate to communicate with her family, but Rett Syndrome makes this impossible. That is, until some new people in her life allow this strong, driven character to finally show the world her true personality.

The Ratcatcher’s Daughter by Pamela Rushby

It’s 1900 and Issy’s father is a rat-catcher. When he becomes ill, it’s up to Issy to – wait for it – help rid Brisbane of the plague.

Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee

Lenny’s world is falling apart, but how she deals with this (and, especially, her mother’s abusive partner) shows the depth of her character.

A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay

Jena must deny herself food and wrap her limbs in order to stay small so she can slip inside rock crevices and retrieve precious mica. It is only when she begins to question the inconsistencies in her world that she can be set free.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Mia’s immigrant parents are doing it tough and so is Mia, who tends the desk at the Calivista motel while they clean rooms. She might be small, but this tenacious heroine packs a lot of “I can do it!” action into one book.

Allison Rushby is the author of more than 20 books. Her latest middle-grade novel, The Seven Keys, is the sequel to the award-winning The Turnkey. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

If you’d like more book suggestions for your young reader, join the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community.

*This post contains affiliate links. Click the title of each book to find out more about it or to purchase from Booktopia.

Pin It on Pinterest