Booking Through Thursday: Grammar

Booking Through Thursday is a question-of-the-week meme.  This week's question:
In honor of National Grammar Day … it IS “March Fourth” after all … do you have any grammar books? Punctuation? Writing guidelines? Style books?
More importantly, have you read them?
How do you feel about grammar in general? Important? Vital? Unnecessary? Fussy?
I am a stickler for grammar and punctuation in my professional life.  I've never been able to fall into the conventions of online chatting or writing quick emails with no punctuation; even my notes to my husband are meticulously grammatical.  Not that I don't ever make a mistake.  And sometimes I even start sentences with "and."  =)

I do a mini-unit each year with my fourth grade students.  This is usually in cooperation with teaching them the conventions of typing: one space after each punctuation mark, two after each period, etc.  We read some funny books on punctuation, correct a few paragraphs with errors and learn to use a checklist for editing our own work.  Student's work improves dramatically in this experience.

I like to start with Punctuation Takes A Vacation by Robin Pulver.  This humorous story, illustrated with childlike paintings, shows what would happen if punctuation left the classroom.  Students One two page spread has punctuation marks writing postcards back to the students.  Later the punctuation from the classroom next door comes over and messes up their work.  It's funny and useful and the kids love it.

The second book I use is Greedy Apostrophe, which goes more in detail about the mistakes one makes using the apostrophe to create possessives where there are not supposed to be any.  This mistake pervades student work, even those hung in the halls, and I tell them in no uncertain terms that it makes them look bad when they use apostrophes in the wrong place.  We do a short worksheet so they get practice putting the punctuation in the right place.

Another excellent and very funny series of books are the picture books by Lynne Truss, starting with Eats Shoots and Leaves, followed by The Girl's Like Spaghetti and Twenty-Odd Ducks.  These books present a sentence twice, with two different ways to punctuate it, resulting in different meanings.  The funny part is the illustration going with each sentence.  Every fourth grader I know thinks these books are hilarious.

Incidentally, when I read the adult version of her book Eats Shoots and Leaves, I was eating alone in a diner at 7 in the morning, falling all over myself laughing.  If you're a grammar and punctuation fanatic like me, treat yourself to her book sometime.

Labels: ,