Early in the summer I read The Writer’s Toolbox by Patricia Samuelsen from cover to cover. I didn’t start out planning to read it straight through. I thought I would just read it long enough to see if it would work for my children and then pick up with them when we were ready for it. Once I started reading I got so excited about the information presented I just decided to read the whole book.
Each of 30 lessons covers a different rhetorical device. The rhetorical device is presented, defined, explained and demonstrated through examples and writing exercises. I got excited because I remember learning some of these in school. I had forgotten much and quickly recognized that my children would not be the only ones to benefit from the study.
My husband and I had already set “improved writing skills” as one of our goals for our older children this summer, so the book could not have arrived at a better time. We brought the book along on our cross-country drive to California. Each day I have the older two children take turns reading a lesson and completing the exercises during the morning. This takes between 15 and 20 minutes. At lunch, we discuss the rhetorical device we have studied and I elaborate if I find they need more understanding. In the afternoon, they each write 8 to 10 sentences about the day in their journal using at least one example of the rhetorical device being studied.
I am very pleased with the results. Here is my ten year-old son’s entry on the day we studied metaphor.
Today we decided to go to a farmhouse restaurant. The restaurant was in the middle of a corn farm. It was old style. We all had water to drink except for Mom and Grandma. The food was good. I shared the steak with Dad. Afterwards, we swung on the saucer swing. Dad pushed us. I was riding a tornado, turning this way and that.
My Bottom Line: I give this book my highest recommendation. This is a book we will return to again and again between now and high school graduation. Children can begin using the book from age 10. A fresh look at the book a few years later will bring even greater understanding. At 37 years old, I learned a great deal myself and can therefore recommend the book to any writer who seeks to improve his skill.