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

Bookmark and Share

Good News For Teachers And Principals

Curriculum enrichment programs with author John Gile are a blend of solid writing instruction and strong motivational elements that enhance and strengthen Four-Blocks™, Four-Square, John Collins Writing, Six-Traits, Balanced Literacy, and combined approaches at any level.

No special preparation is necessary for your students to benefit from his “How A Book Is Born” assembly program and hands-on classroom writing workshops, but principals and teachers often request suggestions for classroom and learning center activities to use prior to and following his programs with their students. Some suggestions follow.

• Click cover for larger image. Aaron B., Third Grade


1. John Gile has created several grade-appropriate versions of his “How A Book Is Born” assembly program. For grade two and below, the program concentrates on reading power. Programs for grade three and above concentrate on writing skills. Programs at all levels highlight the essential role of reading as the foundation for writing power and provide insight into processes for generating and developing ideas, writing and rewriting, creating illustrations, avoiding writing pitfalls, and overcoming writer’s procrastination — all presented in a context that entertains as it informs and instructs. The grade three and above programs include writing tools to make all forms of writing easier, faster, more powerful, and more fun.
As you can see in program evaluations by teachers and administrators, his programs flesh out classroom instruction, provide tools and techniques on which teachers and students can continue building, and provide motivation so crucial for reading and writing skill development.

2. For grades two and below, teachers may wish to read Oh, How I Wished I Could Read! to their students. The story is based on some practical and amusing aspects of what often is termed “environmental reading” and encourages children to think about the vital role reading plays in their everyday lives. In one popular classroom exercise, teachers use the story to initiate a discussion of reading power, then have each child select a reason why reading is important to him/her and create a page with an illustration and sentence or short text about that reason. The pages are posted in the classroom and/or assembled to make a book. Some teachers present their class books to the author while he is at their school, allowing the students to showcase their creativity, reinforcing his message that they are authors, too, and generating excitement about reading. His thank you note sent afterwards to acknowledge the students’ writing and art provides another opportunity for discussing the importance of reading and the power of writing.

3. For grades three and above, teachers may wish to do an advanced version of that activity or read What Is That Thing? Whose Stuff Is This? to focus on vocabulary development and the worlds that open to us with word power. Another appropriate exercise with the older children is to follow the reading with a discussion of ideas presented and then have students, working in groups or individually, create 60 second “commercials” about the importance of reading, the connection between reading and vocabulary development, the ways word power enriches our own lives and the lives of everyone in our communities, and the impact our words can have on others. Featuring the students’ word power “commercials” on the PA system involves the whole school and provides students with recognition for their good work.

4. Teachers have created numerous classroom and school-wide exercises based on various themes found in The First Forest. Common themes developed by teachers include, but are not limited to:
--Consideration for others;
--Environmental concerns;
Additional free teaching aids, units, and ideas are available at the links provided below and at the author's website,

One group of teachers was particularly creative in capitalizing on the peace theme of The First Forest. Instead of focusing on the large concept of world peace, they focused on peace in the classroom and peace at home. They shared the story, used the story to lead into a discussion of how the children treat each other, and then had the children make posters about keeping the peace at school. They also gave them an assignment to create posters about keeping the peace at home and treating each other with respect — to be completed with their families. The peace at home poster project involved the children in talks with their families about kindness and patience and showing respect for themselves and others. The posters displayed on classroom and hallway walls foster courtesy and kindness.

Another teacher in Minnesota talked with students about the people in their neighborhoods, then told the children she was going to share with them a story about an imaginary neighborhood — The First Forest. She read the story to them and followed up with a discussion of how the imaginary neighborhood changed and whether they liked it better before or after the change. She connected it with how people treat each other in the children’s neighborhoods and how the children would like it to be. That was followed by a short writing assignment about what the children could do to make their own neighborhoods more friendly.

Others cite the story as an example of pourquoi literature — imaginative stories based on something that happens in nature and used as a metaphor or allegory to address aspects of human behavior — and have the children make up their own pourquoi stories. Teachers and students have addressed very profound concerns and created very beautiful stories in their writing exercises based on responses to The First Forest.

5. John Gile is a versatile communicator — author, journalist, editor, publisher, lecturer, cartoonist — who employs various and diverse writing styles in addressing the needs and interests of both children and adults. In his books cited here, he writes in a rhythmical, rhyming pattern, including internal rhymes which teachers use in various ways to focus on language. For younger students, the rhyming pattern is used to foster phonemic awareness and phonological development. Teachers reading the stories pause and invite the children to use the rhythm and rhyme of the writing as a clue for guessing what the next word will be. For older students, the word choice pattern is used to address cadence, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and the stories are used to address concepts such as simile, allegory, metaphor, analogy, personification, etc.

6. You will find additional ideas for your consideration on other pages and in updates at both and at In “How A Book Is Born” assembly programs and in hands-on classroom writing workshops, John Gile focuses on broad principles students can apply in all their writing — expository, descriptive, narrative, and persuasive. Please remember these suggestions have been prepared in response to requests from principals and teachers, but no special preparation beyond normal instruction in your current curriculum is necessary for your students to derive benefits which strengthen their reading and writing skills in programs with John Gile. Call 815/968-6601 or contact us by e-mail for answers to any questions.

Free Teaching Aids

The First Forest
Cross Curricular Unit
Multicultural Awareness
The First Forest — Teaching Peace
Listen to the wisdom of the children . . .
A Prime Example Of Pourquoi Literature — Writing Prompt

Oh, How I Wished I Could Read!
Classroom Activities

What Is That Thing? Whose Stuff Is This?
To foster vocabulary development, conflict resolution, reading motivation, creativity, compassion, cooperation

Click here for the author's background information

Click here to visit the author's website —

Bookmark and Share

(Back to top of page)t

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