Monday, June 21, 2010

Rewriting a Classic

When my son was in Kindergarten I read Stuart Little to him. We both enjoyed the story until the end. My son was convinced that E.B. White must have dropped the rest of the chapter on his way to the publisher. How could the story end that way? What happened to the little bird?

He was so upset with the ending that I suggested he come up with his own version of how the story ends. He was delighted. He sat down and wrote his ending and drew a picture to go with it. When he was done, I glued it into the back of the book.

Now I realize some people will be horrified that I would a) desecrate a hard cover book by gluing additional pages in there and b) allow my child to presume that his ending is better than the one written by the celebrated author of this classic story. But I loved how Drew was so into the story that he was willing to think of an alternate ending. He took it to school and showed his teacher (who was kind enough to read it to the class). It invested him in the book in a very real way.

Drew's ending is still in our copy of Stuart Little. The other day he pulled it down and re-read E.B. White's version. "I can see why he did it this way now," he told me. I was glad to see that time had given him a better understanding of the story. But truth be told, I thought Drew's rewrite was pretty good too.

He's still rewriting endings, creating fan fiction and scripting his videos. He's also writing stories of his own. And hopefully, thanks to the story a mouse and a bird, he'll grow up believing in the power of his own creativity.

31 comments:

Christine Fonseca said...

I love that!

Kristan said...

Actually I LOVE that you let him write his own ending to the story. What great encouragement of creativity!

Anna said...

How interesting! The fact that he was able to go back later and see why EB White wrote the ending the way he did is inspiring. It shows how much we learn and grow as readers (and writers).

Tess said...

who would be against that? It's a brilliant idea and I might do it myself to some novels...hahaha

Mother Hen said...

Good for him for being so interested in the writing process now. His works will be treasures for you both later in life. Well done.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I'm entranced that he wanted to write a new ending. Every story (every life) could turn another way and come out differently. That's what makes it intriguing. Kudos to both of you!

WindyA said...

I think it's great that you encouraged him to make his own ending and he was so enthusiastic about it! Good for him and good for you!

Janet Johnson said...

I love this! What a fabulous idea.

Just might copy you if the opportunity arises.

JEM said...

Great idea! Kids these days (shakes her old lady cane at the sky) aren't given nearly enough opportunities to be creative. Congrats to you.

Becky Levine said...

I LOVE thinking kids. And I love parents who give their kids all the room they need to keep going with it. And I have a few problems with Stuart Little myself--could you ask your son to rewrite the scene with the girl Stuart falls in love with?

Solvang Sherrie said...

Christine: It was fun for both of us :)

Kristan: I think all kids have an amazing amount of creativity if we aren't afraid to let them explore it.

Anna: Isn't that great? I was so amazed that he had grown enough to see it.

Tess: I'll admit there are some I'd like to do that with myself ;P

Mother Hen: I have a big box of books he has written that I plan to sell on Ebay once he's a famous film maker (kidding!) but I do keep just about everything he writes :)

Tricia: It's fun to think about how differently things could turn out, isn't it?

Windy: He's enthusiastic about everything he tries. I just try to keep up!

Janet: Copy away! I've done this verbally with my kids as well and it's actually very fun to see what they come up with for alternate endings.

JEM: Careful with that cane! Plenty of creativity in this corner of the world :)

Solvang Sherrie said...

Becky: Too funny! My son doesn't like that part either. Any whiff of romance and the eyes start rolling :)

Becky Levine said...

It was such a weird scene, too, not at ALL a kid-friendly romance. I always thought EB White might have dipped down into a bit of depression as he wrote it. Stuart sure did!

Laura Pauling said...

There's nothing wrong with rewriting an ending. Fanfiction or retelling is a safe place for anyone to learn writing skills!

Genie of the Shell said...

That's so adorable! What a great exercise in learning about critical thinking and storytelling. He's interacting with that book on a far deeper level than just reading it.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

You are such a good mama! What a wonderful way to encourage personal investment in reading - and it has clearly paid off! :-)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

How awesome are you? The creativity of kids is a raw power they're born with - I'm convinced you can allow it to grow or squash it. Your little guy's creativity is growing exponentially because he's got such a great mom! :)

Carolyn V. said...

How awesome that he is writing! There are some ending to stories I want to rewrite too! =)

Jackee said...

What a great story! Your son has it right--take a story and make it your own. Any author worth their salt knows that is how kids identify and how to make them love stories.

I used to do this as a child (rewrite endings, that is) in my head. Now I wish I had a mom like you that would have encouraged me to write them out, to practice my creativity in a tangible way. Kudos to you, Sherrie!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

That's so sweet! I've been tempted a number of times to rewrite the ending of books I read. :)

ali said...

That is just so awesome. Rock on mom!

Cindy Shortt said...

I think allowing him to write a new ending is fabulous. What a way to inspire your son's mind. I can't wait to pick up his bestselling book one day!!!

* said...

Love it! Very creative and innovative...if you don't like it change it...like your boy!

Paige said...

I love that encouraged your son to rewrite the ending! You demonstrated so clearly that there are no boundaries to creativity. That the last page of a book can be the first page of something new.

Corey Schwartz said...

I think it is AWESOME that you did that!

lotusgirl said...

That's fabulous. I love it. I think it's a wonderful way to show kids that they can make stories their own. Don't we all imagine what would happen after the last page of a book we love?

Solvang Sherrie said...

Laura: He's been going to town on the fanfiction recently for Star Wars and I'm amazed by how much it has helped his writing skills.

Genie: We have a great time discussing books because of those critical thinking skills he's developed :)

Shannon: Thank you *blushes*

Susan: I've noticed that from being in classrooms that ALL kids do have this amazing creativity that needs to be nurtured. It doesn't always manifest in exactly the same way. The trick is figuring out what works with each child and that doesn't always happen at school so we have to work on it at home.

Carolyn: By the time he's my age he's going to be a WAY better writer because he's already putting in the time now!

Jackee: How cool that you did this as a kid, too! I remember wishing certain books would end differently the next time I read them :)

Stina: It just goes to show that the same idea can be interpreted in so many ways!

Ali: Thanks :D

Cindy: I have no doubt that he will have a bestselling book one day. We joke that he's going to be published before me ;P

EarthGipsy: He's all about change :)

Paige: I love how you worded that: The last page of the book becomes the first page of something new. Perfect!

Corey: He's always thought it was pretty cool to see his writing there in the book :)

Lois: When it's a really good book, I do wonder what happens with the characters after the ending.

Miss J said...

Cool! Do you know what happend to the end of the book? :)

Lori W. said...

This is a great story. You're such a cool mom! How could he not grow up believing in the power of his own creativity?!

Dawn Simon said...

I love that he rewrote it, and I love that you treated him so respectfully. There are so many times when we can have a special moment with our kids if we take the time to listen and encourage. Go Sherrie!

I watched his Clone Wars video. What a great kid!

Rena said...

That's great!

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