Many children are taught to memorise “good or useful phrases” and bombastic words to be regurgitated in their composition. This method might be useful to a certain extent for children who are unable to construct proper sentences. In such cases, being able to regurgitate a few properly phrased sentences is better than writing an entire story filled with broken sentences.
However, this should not be the only method to teach your child how to write a good composition. In fact, we personally dislike bombastic words and phrases in students’ compositions. Most of these memorised paragraphs and phrases sound unnatural and they do not draw readers into the story.
Compare the beginning sentences of these two compositions:
Magnolia white clouds dotted the azure blue sky. The soft, dappled light of the morning sun filtered through the leaves of the majestic, towering trees as the distinctive scent from a myriad of flowers perfumed the air. Brown sparrows and smoky grey pigeons huddled in groups, while brightly hued butterflies flitted around the leafy shrubs that lined the winding paths.
It was a quiet Monday morning. So quiet that I began to feel uneasy. As I walked up the stairs to the second floor of my apartment, I saw a dark shadow lurking in a corner. My heart pounded.
Now, which composition do you want to continue reading?
Definitely Composition (2)!
If we compare the two compositions above, Composition (1) has more bombastic words and phrases. Yet those words do not draw us into the story at all.
Composition (2) has almost no bombastic words. The words used are so simple that even a young child is able to read them. BUT readers are totally drawn into the story and want to continue reading to find out what happened next. Don’t you?
So, should kids memorise and regurgitate “good and useful phrases” in their compositions, especially those with bombastic words that sound totally unnatural?
Instead of doing that, it is better to teach them to write compelling sentences and build suspense in their stories.
Let’s take a look at the following beginning sentences of some popular stories:
Sophie couldn’t sleep.
(The BFG ~ Roald Dahl)
Mike, Peggy and Nora were sitting in the fields, talking together. They were very unhappy. Nora was crying, and would not stop.
(The Secret Island ~ Enid Blyton)
Until he was four years old, James Henry Trotter had a happy life.
(James and the Giant Peach ~ Roald Dahl)
“Where’s Papa going with that axe?” said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.
(Charlotte’s Web ~ E.B. White)
When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.
(To Kill a Mockingbird ~ Harper Lee)
In fairy-tales, witches always wear silly black hats and black cloaks, and they ride on broomsticks. But this is not a fairy-tale. This is about real witches.
(The Witches ~ Roald Dahl)
Harry Potter was a highly unusual boy in many ways. For one thing, he hated the summer holidays more than any other time of the year. For another, he really wanted to do his homework, but was forced to do it in secret, in the dead of the night. And he also happened to be a wizard.
(Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ~ J.K. Rowling)
Which of these famous authors start their stories with bombastic, almost unreadable sentences?
The answer is clear.
Instead of teaching our children to use unnatural and bombastic words, it is more important to teach them to start their stories with readable, simple words that build suspense and draw readers into their stories.
Don’t you think so?