Reclaiming Reluctant Writers: How to Encourage Students to Face Their Fears and Master the Essential Traits of Good Writers.


128 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-55138-220-3
DDC 372.62'3044





Reviewed by Emily McMillan


Kellie Buis is the writing teacher that I wish I had in school. Her love of teaching shines throughout this practical and thoughtful book as she shows how learning to write can also empower young people, encourage a love of learning, and develop leadership skills. Buis presents a well-laid-out three-to-six-week action plan, suitable for grades three and up, that can be repeated with different topics and writing genres.


To help implement the action plan, reproducible sheets and book lists are provided for teachers, and Buis tells delightful stories of how the activities have worked in her classroom, painting a wonderful picture of a bustling classroom full of eager young minds discovering the joy of writing. Buis gives details on the critical success factors for overturning the common feeling of marginalization in reluctant writers, including interesting, fun-filled, and experiential learning; free writing that is not judged in order to promote fluency; writing modelled through creating and reading aloud; planning that focuses on the visual; peer editing to give a sense of responsibility; and student-led writing exhibitions to build pride and to allow celebration.


Buis feels the most important part of encouraging a reluctant writer is to show that the writing process can be joyful and enabling. While importance is placed on revising and editing, Buis says that teachers should not strive for perfection in student assignments and also should not worry too much about grammar, spelling, and punctuation, which can be roadblocks for the reluctant writer. She emphasizes that the focus should be on students’ abilities to develop ideas in their writing.


Buis is presenting a shift in mindset and an entire framework for teaching that may require some growth and a willingness to be flexible on the part of the teacher. The teacher must share control, power, and responsibility with their students in order to create empowered writers who are part of a community and who are excited to share their new skill. By incorporating fun, keeping the writing connected to real life, and allowing freedom to explore the different aspects of writing without fear of correction, Buis is able to turn reluctant writers into enthusiastic writers.


Buis, Kellie., “Reclaiming Reluctant Writers: How to Encourage Students to Face Their Fears and Master the Essential Traits of Good Writers.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024,