Third Graders Get an Insider’s Look at the Writing Process

Bill Harley speaks to Paul Cuffee third graders

Award-winning writer and musician Bill Harley discusses his writing process with third graders.

Not many kids get a glimpse from the author himself into their favorite fictional hero’s next adventure. But when children’s author and long-time artist in residence Bill Harley joined third grade students in their writing classes, they got just that.

The students have been reading Harley’s newest series of books featuring Charlie Bumpers, a messy, short-sighted 10-year-old with a big heart. During the book discussion on the series debut, Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year, Harley described his writing process and showed pictures of his writing studio. His writing discipline involves writing every day to produce his young adult fiction.

After hearing novelist E.M. Forster’s theory of “flat” vs. “round” characters, students readily identified each type in Harley’s book. They chose Squid, Charlie’s pesky younger sister, as a flat character who doesn’t evolve over the course of the book. They noted that Mrs. Burke, the “teacher of the year” in the title, is a classic round character, as she not only changes during the book but is also a catalyst for change in other characters.

Harley’s visit was well timed, as third grade students have been keeping up with Charlie’s adventures in the next book of the five-part series.


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