Building a Writing Identity

Our backs warm against the brown leather of the family room couch, my son and daughter and I settled in to read a delicious stack of books we’d curated during our library visit earlier that day. We flipped through glossy pages, marveled at rich illustrations and wondered “What will happen next?” We did all of those things that parents and teachers do when we apprentice our children into to a lifelong love of reading. Together we read book after book after book and then came across one that was a little bit different from the rest. It was a copy of “The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus” by Jen Bryant. The book introduced us to a young boy who loved to write lists. A boy who had many interests and who found joy in using writing to organize and index the world around him. A boy who was a lot like my boy. “Hmmm. I think I know someone who loves writing lists…do you know anyone like that?” I asked my six-year-old son. Beaming, he exclaimed “Me! I’m a writer!”


Since he started writing he has always talked about himself as someone who knows how to spell, someone who knows how to write, someone who can write five-star sentences, but seeing his style of writing reflected back to him in a book helped him see that he was a writer. When he left the couch to get ready for bed, my son made sure that the book about Roget the list-maker was on the top of the book stack, for easy reference I assume. His moment of seeing himself as a writer caused me to wonder: how can I better support learners in uncovering and exploring their own reading identity? What kinds of texts or experience can help them come to know who they are as writers? I hope every writer I work in the fuure experiences the joy of discovering the truth: we are all writers. The question we need to explore isn’t am I a writer? it’s how am I a writer?


3 thoughts on “Building a Writing Identity

  1. Identity is crucial to all writers. The way you crafted this piece gently unpacked the growing emergence of a writing identity. One way we assist inexperienced writers to develop this essential view of themselves as writers is to share our writing lives and all the things that contribute to it. There is evidence here of your gentle nurturing of a young writer’s identity. May you continue your positive work with all the young writers you meet.


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