For the last five years, we have eschewed worksheets and textbooks in our homeschool environment, preferring instead a combination of hands-on projects and in-depth exploration. This is true for English as well. When we first started down this home education road, Eva was just six and quite the storyteller. I challenged her to create an entire story and illustrate it. In return, I offered to help her self-publish it into her very own book. Her love of writing exploded that year, and just this week Eva released her fifth book, The Krazy Kinzy Kapers.
Because this is such an intense project, it comprises the majority of her English studies. (In addition, she reads, watches and discusses smart TV series and movies, attends and acts in theater, and creates her own films. On occasion, she writes an essay or two as well.) I’ve talked before about why I feel this approach beats that of the traditional curriculum/worksheet. But today, I’ve asked Eva to talk a little about her education and journey as an author. Welcome Eva!
You’ve been writing one book each year since you were six years old. How do you feel this has shaped your education and/or your life?
I think it’s shaped my life in a lot of ways. It’s made me love to write, always want to do more English class, and now every time I take a walk, I get brand new ideas for new books. When I got my copy of my very first book, Birds on the Run, I remember I said, “Mommy, I don’t want to be a princess anymore. I want to be an author.” It’s created an identity for me. It makes me more confident. Since I started writing, I really do see possibilities in everything. It’s completely altered my life in all those different ways and more.
Can you describe your English studies? What all do they entail?
My English studies generally are a combination of writing the book of the year and reading a literary book. This year, it was Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin, and now I’m reading How to Read Literature like a Professor for Kids by Thomas Foster. Also, I use many other things in my English studies. For example, TV. My dad and I like to watch a show called Gilmore Girls. I really like it, because it relates to real life situations. Gilmore Girls uses a lot of tough situations that the mother and daughter go through together, and it’s fun to analyze with dad and mom, who have both seen it. I also enjoy doing summer theater. Last year I played Jip the dog in the production of Doctor Doolittle – it was so much fun!
Because your English studies are comprised of open-ended activities like reading and writing, how do you learn grammar, sentence structure, parts of speech, etc.?
I learn all of that during the writing process and by reading books. I’ll pick apart sentence structure and learn grammar as I read (we did that a lot when we read Pride and Prejudice). In the writing process, all I can say is that you pick up things as you go. Every once in awhile, my dad, who is an English professor, will give my brother and I a lesson on grammar, but I can say that mostly you just pick stuff up as you go.
What else have you learned through your English studies?
I’ve learned how to format a book, how to examine a story with a critical eye, and lots of other useful things, like how to professionally market and promote a book, how to use social media to my advantage, and how to set up photographs and take professional looking pictures. I’ve also learned how to examine films with a critical eye. One of my favorite activities this year was learning how to make short videos and upload them to YouTube and my website.
Do you think other kids could benefit from writing a book each year? Why?
It depends on the student, really. If the student absolutely hated writing, then no, they probably shouldn’t write a book each year. My brother Ian started writing a book the same year I did, and although he enjoyed it, he didn’t want to do it in later years. So mom had him read lots of stuff, and then he would report his thoughts on it. I would have a student try to write a book, and if the student loved writing, then yes! It would be a great, hands-on activity. If not, I would find a way to relate to English using something he/she really loved.
Tell me a little about your book, and about Kinzy in particular.
My book is a collection of short stories about Kinzy the Queensland Koala. Kinzy is “The Charming Koala with the Huge Ego,” and thinks he’s better than all of his friends. None of them are particularly clever, but Kinzy’s probably the least so. He really loves Eucalyptus, which is a plant that koalas eat. His voice is strange, sounding a bit constipated, confident, and exuberant, all at the same time. He came from Australia, but got kidnapped in the great war between the humans and the koalas, known as The War of the Boo-Boo 4 (the Boo-Boo 4 is a gigantic koala spaceship OF DEATH) and ended up in the United States. These days he runs a cooking show called the Kinzy’s Cooking Show, where he cooks with eucalyptus and creates such dishes as Eucalyptus Pie and Eucalyptus Stew.
Do you think you’ll always be a writer? How has your homeschool environment helped prepare you for your chosen career?
I don’t think I’ll always be an author. I like cooking, acting, and dancing, although cooking is probably my favorite. I want to run a bakery/restaurant when I, you know, have the money and the experience to open up my own bakery and run it. I like that you can mix ingredients like water, flour, and sugar, bake it, and then it’s a delicious thing of happiness. I also like the idea of running my own store, designing it, etc.
What if you don’t end up becoming a writer? Do you feel that your experience writing your books will be helpful to you anyway? Why?
I think that the writing element will definitely help. I will always love reading, for one, and writing books will help me enjoy a book’s underlying themes and meaning. Also, I think I’ll still write books for fun. I might write cookbooks, and I’ll definitely continue the Kinzy series. I’ll also continue writing as an English curriculum while I’m in school.
What are your future writer-ly plans?
I really want to continue writing, but on the other hand, I have no idea what I’m going to write. I might write another Kinzy story, but I’m also writing a novel in my spare time. It’ll be more of a teen or young adult book. It’s about a teenager who has a difficult family life, and she goes to find her sister when she goes missing. I also want to make more of the Kinzy’s Cooking Show videos, because I want to explore the different possibilities with his cooking environment.
Thanks very much for having me!
To see a preview and order Eva’s new book (or any of her other books), click here or go straight to the Krazy Kinzy Kapers by clicking on the picture to the right. Congratulations Eva!
You may also like:
- Share this