The JGC/United Publishing Philosophy: Just because we found the world a certain way doesn't mean we have to leave it that way. Our goal is to help readers see beyond what is to what can be by opening minds and hearts with the power of imaginative literature. — John Gile, Editor & Publisher

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How A Book Is Born: A Reading And Writing Program
By Author John Gile For Students Of All Ages

“How A Book Is Born” is a guided tour of writing processes common to narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive writing. It is an instructive, motivational tour that explains and illustrates techniques to:

• find, capture, and develop ideas;
• organize writing elements;
• overcome writer’s block to complete writing assignments promptly;
• produce writing that is clear, concise, cogent, and compelling;
• enliven and strengthen writing with similes, metaphors, analogies, personification;
• avoid common writing pitfalls that can make writing seem difficult;
• create and merge illustrations;
• benefit from the reading/writing connection;
• use journals to strengthen “whole brain” thinking and writing skills.

• How does “How A Book is Born” differ from other curriculum enrichment programs?

“How A Book Is Born” fleshes out and complements all reading and writing programs, including Four-Blocks™, Four-Square, John Collins Writing, Six-Traits, Balanced Literacy, and combined approaches at any level. It goes beyond theory and provides students with tools and techniques used in creating award-winning books that have made and topped bestseller lists. Students benefit by seeing firsthand how authors apply those writing techniques in our work.

In the core program, students see entertaining illustrations of how we find, capture, and develop ideas into finished stories. They see how artists develop illustrations and how the writing and art are merged to produce a finished product. Students see that effective and successful writing is accomplished by rewriting, revising, and editing. The point is graphically reinforced with art elements which they see evolve from rough doodles and early sketches into full color illustrations. I explain the challenges writers and artists face in overcoming initial inertia and emphasize the importance of taking that first step — getting started. Because I share from my own experiences with my own books, I am able to adapt my programs to the specific needs and interests of each group and to provide personal anecdotes to encourage and motivate the students in their work. The program includes an overview of book production and an explanation that books are only one of many expressions of writers’ work.

At the end of the program, I answer students’ questions and invite them to send me more questions by snail mail or e-mail. Some teachers send me lists of questions from students. Others send me envelopes filled with letters students write as a classroom writing project.

“How A Book Is Born” flows out of workshops I created for writers aspiring to write for publication. Workshop content was adapted for students when teachers using The First Forest in language arts, graphic arts, conflict resolution, and to address environmental issues invited me to provide writing programs at their schools. The program has now been presented to more than 500,000 students across the United States and abroad.

• How is the program structured?

I have several versions of the program and adapt the material for each grade level or age group. For younger students, the program focuses on reading and is designed to motivate them to develop reading power. For older students, the program focuses on writing and includes writing tools and techniques. I share from my own experience as an uncooperative student. My goal is to reach students with the same negative attitude I had. I know that, when I reach those students, the rest will come along.

• How are classes grouped for the programs?

Most K-6 principals group students K-2, 3-4, and 5-6. In K-8 schools, students are grouped K-2, 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8 or K-2, 3-5, 6-8, depending on enrollment. Other groupings are sometimes used because of time constraints, but grades two and below should not be grouped with grades three and above because of the differing program content and approach. A shorter, separate kindergarten program is offered and is recommended for first semester kindergartners. Middle school, junior high, and high school student programs require no special grouping.

• How long does the program run?

Each session runs about 40 minutes for the basic presentation and an additional 15 minutes or more for questions and answers.

• What is the fee for the program?

The fee for the program depends on how many presentations I do, whether the schedule includes related CEU/CPDU staff development sessions and evening programs with parents, whether the visit is coordinated with participation by other schools, travel, lodging, etc. Because of the numerous variables, the fastest way to determine your exact fee is to call Donna at 815/968-6601 weekday mornings or use the “Contact Us” link at either or We realize that many schools do not have active PTO’s or funds for curriculum enrichment and teacher development, so we have developed ways to assist schools with program costs. Donna will work with you and your budget.

• May schools combine for the program?

Yes, I frequently spend the day visiting two or more schools in the same community.

• Where do you conduct the program?

I have presented the program in gymnasiums, cafeterias, learning centers, classrooms, assembly halls, auditoriums, and library meeting rooms — and outside on a California hillside.

• How does “How A Book Is Born” differ from your writing workshops?

“How A Book Is Born” is designed as an assembly program, but I also do hands-on writing workshops for students and for teachers. I present a condensed version of material from my day-long program, “The Writer’s Workshop.” The sessions include excerpts from: “Mining the Gold in Your Own Back Yard” — the process of recognizing, capturing, and developing the writing ideas that are all around us; “Overcoming Writers’ Procrastination”— analyzing and overcoming factors that interfere with writing; “Writing With Power” — techniques to make your writing come alive. For teachers, I add material on motivating students to write.

• Are you available for Author-In-Residence Programs?

Yes. Extended presence maximizes opportunities for working with students in small groups, for addressing the interests, needs, and questions of individual students, and for putting theory into practice by writing a book or books together as classroom projects. It is beneficial both for students who hate writing and for students who love writing. Extended presence also maximizes opportunities to address concerns of teachers and parents and to answer their questions more fully.

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Copyright 2009 by JGC/United Publishing, 815.968.6601. All rights reserved. Revised: January 21, 2010