Building A Writing Community: Children Reading, Sharing And Talking About Writing

As part of our ongoing work on building a Writing For Pleasure pedagogy, we have been reflecting on the third principle of our Writing For Pleasure manifesto:

Reading, Sharing And Talking About Writing (3)

Children are given regular opportunities to share and discuss with others (including teachers) their own and others’ writing in order to give and receive constructive criticism and celebrate achievement. The writing community begins to build its own ways of talking and thinking as writers. This happens best when the writing environment is positive and settled in tone, and has a sense of fostering a community of writers.

What needs attention when trying to build a community of writers in your class or school? This obviously means creating an environment where writers can flourish.

Below, we have offered some questions that might be worth reflecting on. If you’ve written about writer talk and building communities of writers yourself or would like to contribute, you’re welcome to use the comments section below.

Finally, at the end, we have provided a small list of books which are great reading if building a community of social writers sounds like something you’d like to learn more about.

The Value Of Talk In The Writing Community

  • How do you ensure writing is seen as a social act in your classroom?
  • Why is it valuable for children to talk about their writing and being a writer?
  • At what stages of the writing process do teachers allow children to discuss their writing projects?
  • How do teachers ensure children have opportunity to perform and/or publish their writing projects?

Authentic Purposes Encouraging Talk

  • Do children have access to potential readers by talking to them about their writing so far and seeking advice on how it can be more effective?
  • Do children have opportunity to express their interests and funds of knowledge through talk and writing?
  • Are children encouraged to talk and share their writing strategies and how they approach writing with the writing community? Are children afforded opportunity to learn from each other?
  • Does collaborative writing take place in your classroom?

Reciprocal Talk Between Children And Teachers

  • What sorts of conversations do you model, alongside the children in your class, about being a writer?
  • Do you conduct pupil-conferences with the children in your class in a systematic way?

The Types Of Talk Expected In Writing For Pleasure Classrooms

  • What type of talk is the most neglected in classrooms: talk about writing content, talk about writing structures or talk about writing processes?
  • Can children talk to generate ideas? to plan collaboratively? rehearse their writing orally? teach writing strategies to other children?

What can people read to find out more about encouraging talk in the classroom?

Using Talk To Support Writing by Ros Fisher, Susan Jones, Shirley Larkin, Debra Myhill & Susan Jones

Essential reading for understanding the power of talk to support writing.


In The Middle by Nancie Atwell

A great example of a teacher creating a highly social writing community. Showing how they can call upon their peers to improve and learn about writing. It also discusses how to use the concept of ‘author’s chair’.   

Language and Learning by James Britton

Britton famously stated: writing takes place ‘floating on a sea of talk


Multiple Worlds of Child Writers: Friends Learning to Write by Anne Dyson 

Anne Dyson has spent many decades researching and writing about children uses their cultural references, funds of knowledge and the things they like to talk about as a legitimate and rich source for writing. 


Agency and Platform: The Relationships between Talk and Writing In The SAGE Handbook of Writing Development

A thought-provoking chapter in a varied and high-quality handbook.


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