As a reading teacher, I often tell my students that the best way to become a better reader is to…wait for it…read. Seems obvious, right? And, of course, the best way to become a better writer is to write. After all, the more you write, the more you produce, the more you learn about writing and about yourself as a writer, and the more you improve.
During our “Road to Publishing” series, we focused on the writing process because, let’s face it, if the writing doesn’t get done, you’re not going to finish your book and become a published author. But, today we want to stress that to become a better writer, you also need to read. A lot.
This may seem obvious to many of us, since most writers I know buy more books than they could ever possibly read in a lifetime, but I’m thinking of my students and other young people who may become future novelists. I often hear students separate reading and writing, as in,”I like to read, but I hate to write” or “I love to write, but I hate to read.”
In response, I offer this quote from a text I use with my college composition students: “Reading and writing function much like breathing in & breathing out. They are inextricably linked” (McQuade/Atwan).
To be a better writer, you must read. Obviously, you read to do the necessary research, and you read within your genre to know what’s been done and what’s popular. But at some point, you’ll also start to read as a writer.
I was always an avid reader, but once I started to write a novel, I read books differently. Of course, at times, I just want to relax and escape and enjoy a good book. Oftentimes, though, I now read as a writer. I notice the structure of the work, vivid descriptions, great dialogue, and chapter endings that keep me reading. I underline beautifully crafted phrases and catch when someone is telling instead of showing. I also wonder if telling is fine in that moment or if my editor would have marked it with a note.
Reading and writing are linked, no question. And, since this is a place where we celebrate and highlight Latin@s in kid lit, I’ll further suggest that if you plan to write Latin@, then you should read Latin@, too. Every conference session I’ve attended or blog post I’ve read about diversity in children’s literature has emphasized the importance of being accurate and respectful when writers venture into territory outside their personal experiences. To be accurate and respectful in your writing, you have to recognize truth and respect while you read.
Part of our site’s mission is to promote literacy and the love of books within the Latin@ community and to encourage interest in Latin@ children’s, MG, and YA literature among non-Latin@ readers. In other words, we want everyone to read and write more Latin@ Lit. To support this, we are adding to our book lists, hosting a year-long reading challenge, and highlighting certain titles in our new weekly feature called “Libros Latin@s.”
Whether you’re reading for research, pleasure, or to become a better writer, we encourage you to add some Latin@ titles to your TBR list this year.
Here are some of the books we’re reading:
What are you reading?