Breakfast on Mars and 37 Other Delectable Essays:
Your Favorite Authors Take A Stab at the Dreaded Essay Assignment
edited by Rebecca Stern and Brad Wolfe
This is a FANTASTIC book I bought years ago for Becca when she was in eighth grade. It is hilarious. Famous authors were given standard elementary and middle school essay prompts. Given the chance to respond to them, they were able to take boring prompts and turn them into interesting and well-crafted writing. They are great fun to read and it is nice to have good examples of essays to look at when you are teaching writing!
In the introduction, the editors write,
- 'If you want to be a writer,' Stephen King accurately prescribes in On Writing, 'you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.' As teachers, we put this principle into effect when we teach kids the craft of fiction writing and poetry. Yet, when it comes to teaching kids how to write essays, King's advice is discarded. We let kids plow ahead into this genre without arming them with inspiring examples... We need a map to know where we're going. We need to visualize what's ahead. Great essays are the maps our kids need.
As always, I love to take the time to write down the table of contents, so that I can easily find what I need later from my collection of teacher books. I hope this is helpful -- and, even better, inspirational -- to others as well!!!
Describe a time you had to do something you really didn't want to do.
- "Camp Dread or How to Survive a Shockingly Awful Summer"
by Ransom Riggs
If time travel were possible, what moments from your past would you revisit and change? Where would you go in the future and what would you do?
- "The World Is Full of Time Machines"
by Steve Almond
Write about a strong memory and what it means to you.
- "Recall and Defend"
by Rita Williams-Garcia
Write about a before and after. What was life like before? What was life like after?
- "My Life Before Television"
by Elizabeth Winthrop
Write about a memorable encounter you had with someone you didn't really know.
- "Natural Light"
by Sloane Crosley
What makes your family unique?
- "Home Girl"
by April Sinclair
What makes/made your upbringing unique?
- "Raised by Wolves"
Write about a loss and how it has affected you.
- "Death Is Only a Horizon"
by Alane Ferguson
Is the grass always greener? Write about a time when someone else's circumstances or belongings seemed more appealing than your own.
- "Blue Jeans, Cat Stevens, and My First Kiss"
by Lise Clavel
Write about a time you had to make a hard decision. Were you happy with the outcome?
- "A Thousand Truths: (Mostly) a Good Dog"
by Steve Brezenoff
What are you afraid of? What strategies do you have to cope with your fears?
- "Showering with Spiders"
by Clay McLeod Chapman
Write about a time a friend helped you, or you helped a friend.
- "A Good Lie"
by Laurel Snyder
Write about an object or family relic that is especially meaningful to you.
by Marie Ruthoski
What makes someone or something "cool"?
- "Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll"
by Léna Roy
Write about a time you helped make the world a better place.
- "A Single Story Can Change Many Lives"
by Craig Kielburger
What is the strangest/worst job or chore you've ever had?
- "The Only Job I've Ever Had"
by Joe Craig
Personal Essay / How-to Essay
Write a plan to fix an area of your life that you have been neglecting.
- "Creative Boot Camp"
by Joshua Mohr
Personal Essay / Graphic Essay
If you could pick any name for yourself, what would it be and why?
- "Hello, My Name Is"
by Jennifer Lou
Write about a time when you had to experience pain in order to get a huge reward.
- "A Rite of Passage (And the Importance of Penguin Etiquette)"
by Chris Epting
Write about a crazy experience or adventure you've had.
- "Death by Host Family"
by Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg
Graphic Essay / Personal Essay
Write (and/or draw) about a time when you felt like an outsider and how you dealt with it.
- "On Facing My Fears"
by Khalid Birdsong
Graphic Essay / Informative Essay / Personal Essay
If you could change an event in history, which one would you choose and why?
- "Laida Endings"
by Nick Abadzis
Pick a myth or an urban legend and argue why it must be true.
- "Sasquatch Is Out There (And He Wants Us to Leave Him Alone)"
by Kirsten Miller
Make an argument in favor of something you care about. Then make a convincing counterargument addressing that same topic.
- "Breakfast on Mars: Why We Should Colonize the Red Planet"
Part 1: Argument
by Chris Higgins
"Robots Only: Why We Shouldn't Colonize Mars"
Part 2: Counterargument
by Chris Higgins
If you could steal one trait from an animal, what would it be and why?
- "Why We Need Tails"
by Ned Vizzini
Should schools and libraries be allowed to ban books?
- "Banning Books -- An Un-American Act"
by Sarah Darer Littman
When is it okay to break the rules?
- "Break the Rules"
by Ellen Sussman
Pick a superpower and explain its pros and cons.
by Maile Meloy
Write a research report on an unusual animal.
- "The Incredibly Amazing Humpback Anglerfish"
by Michael Hearst
Think of something you enjoy doing. Then, in essay form, write the directions for how to do this activity.
- "How to Fly"
by Wendy Mass
Personal Essay / Informative Essay
What is your favorite place and why?
- "River Girl"
by Gigi Amateau
Informative Essay / Persuasive Essay
Pick a belief that is widely accepted and then debunk it.
- "Warning: This Essay Does Not Contain Pictures"
by Scott Westerfeld
Character Analysis / Persuasive Essay
Put yourself in the shoes of "the villain" and write an essay from his or her perspective.
- "It's On Like Donkey Kong"
by Alan Gratz
Analyze a character from a fairy tale.
- "The Most Famous Fairy-tale Cat of All Is a Furry-faced Fabulist"
by Daisy Whitney
What is your favorite story? Explain what makes this story so compelling.
- "King Arthur's Great Power"
by Mary-Ann Ochota
Look back at one of your written or artistic creations and then describe the inspiration behind it.
- "From Seed to Flower"
by Michael David Lukas
Compare and contrast two characters from the same story.
"Princess Leia Is an Awesome Role Model"
by Cecil Castellucci
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