NPR’s All Things Considered aired a story, It was the best of sentences…, was a short and interesting story. What goes into making a sentence beautiful? What goes into making a sentence memorable? This program briefly addresses the answer to those two controversial questions. People interviewed on the program indicate that finding agreement on those two questions is not easy, but they go ahead and share the list of the ten best sentences in fiction and nonfiction from editors of the American Scholar magazine.
A few of the sentences were showcased in the 2 minute story, one was the last line from Toni Morrison’s book, Sula:
It was a fine cry–loud and long–but it had no bottom and it had no top, just circles and circles of sorrow. (Sula, the best 20 lines from Toni Morrison’s books)
I was thinking what an interesting lesson for teachers to develop with their students. My guess is that there are English or language arts teachers that already use this idea in their lesson planning. What if we have students study the “best sentences” ever written and then learn how to write beautiful and memorable sentences? Afterwards, teachers could have students recite their sentences…like a poetry reading.
As a result of learning how to construct beautiful and memorable sentences, would students learn how to write more effectively? I am not a writing expert, but as I reflect on my own writing instruction, I was never “taught” how to write a beautiful and memorable sentence. I still struggle with that today.
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