Wicked Smart

Get it write! Our 5 favourite books for teaching writing

English advicejudith aitken


Creative writing is often assessed in school entrance exams, but sometimes it’s difficult for teachers to find the best strategy for their pupils. With so many teaching and learning styles to adopt and an infinite amount of advice on how to teach the subject, we decided to whittle it down to the five authors that we are currently fan-girling over.

1. Pie Corbett


The king of storytelling, Pie Corbett is the creator of the infamous story mountain. He encourages children to structure their stories with a beginning, build up, problem, resolution and ending. He also coined the phrase “magpie” – where children are taught to use inspiration they find in books, or from the modelled work of the teacher.

Corbett has created a mini sign language for storytelling, where children from a very young age can associate certain hand gestures with commonly used story phrases. Using this method sees children from as young as Reception including “once upon a time”, “suddenly”, “fortunately” and “finally” in their own stories. Way to go, Pie!

2. Lucy Calkins


In her book “The art of teaching writing”, Calkins favours the writing workshop approach, where a piece of writing is developed over the course of a few weeks. She suggests spending a few days each on the following: generating ideas, planning, writing, editing and celebrating the finished article. She also discusses the importance of “mini-lessons”, where specific skills are developed, such as creating an effective story ending or how to add dialogue to a story.

It’s no secret that Calkins loves a Post-it note – use it to mark favourite pieces of writing, to jot down suggested edits or to provide feedback to peers.

3. Sue Cowley


Perhaps our favourite ever book title, “Getting the buggers to write” offers practical, easy to implement strategies – a real dream for busy teachers! In order to get our pupils to write, and continue writing, they must be truly engaged and motivated. She makes the vital link between reading and writing and suggests that if we want our pupils to become confident writers, we really need to nail the basics of spelling, punctuation and grammar. A solid foundation is key to the development of a strong writer.

4. Alison Wilcox



Alison Wilcox – we love you. As teachers we understand the importance of modelling writing, but sometimes it can be hard to write an incredibly descriptive, powerful piece ourselves! Descriptosaurus comes to the rescue with pages upon pages of descriptive words and phrases, and even better, they are organised into specific genres and categories! For example, there are entire pages on describing animals, settings or people… the list is endless. A real life saver for those that need amazing ideas FAST.

PS – the suggested words and phrases can be printed and used as word banks for children too!

5. Liz Chamberlain


A fantastic option for trainee teachers or NQTs, Chamberlain explains that we need to stop viewing writing as an isolated subject. Instead, we need to encompass writing, reading, speaking and listening as a whole. She champions a cross curricular approach, slotting writing into all curricular areas and giving writing a real purpose. She also sees the importance between the work done at school and how that can be continued at home. The use of story sacks are a wonderful way of discussing writing at home, making the connection between reading and writing, all the while developing children’s engagement and enjoyment of writing from a young age.