Tall Tales to Nonfiction

One of the ways to encourage your child to think outside the box is to get him to make up a story to explain a fact.  Stories like that – Tall Tales – make it possible for even the quietest kid to come up with something totally wacky.  And what kid doesn’t like wacky?

Start out by telling them a tall tale you’re familiar with.  Don’t know any?  Here are some books and a site to get you started.

Next step?  Pick out a fact and ask your kid to make up a story to explain how it happened.  How did the moon get its craters?  Why do dogs bark?  Why do fish live in the water?  How did the rabbit get such a short tail?
Encourage your kids to add details.  The more specific and wild the details, the better.  Encourage them to be funny and outrageous.  Try a few each day.
When your child is really good at it, pay more attention to the details.  Tell them to include all the senses – seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching – to make the details come alive to the reader.
Then get your child to pick the details that matter most.  Does it matter that the dog in the story is fuzzy and white and fast and hungry, or just that he’s fuzzy and fast?  Try to get your child to understand that all details are not equally important.  Some matter to the story more than others.
When you’re all done, your child will have an excellent start on writing nonfiction – the type of writing where details matter and must be specific.  And true.

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