Adopt a Letter of the Alphabet

Adopt a Letter of the Alphabet

Roy Peter Clark wrote a book that I absolutely love called Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer.¬†Each chapter is a brief, accessible skill that can be read and implemented instantly. For example, I learned the power of descriptive verbs that show action, not from any of my teachers, but from Clark’s book. It transformed my writing. I taught action verbs to my AP students to help their essays stand out as more descriptive amongst the stacks of essays read each summer by the evaluators.

So, when I noticed Roy Peter Clark wrote another book called The Glamour of Grammar, I had to buy it. And I was not disappointed. The books are not written for a middle school audience per say, but that is the lens through which I view them, scouring for any and every useful nugget of knowledge I can share with my students and colleagues. Skimming the table of contents, I was immediately drawn to Chapter 3: Adopt a Letter of the Alphabet.

glamour of grammar

I cannot explain why, but ever since I was a kid, of all the letters in the alphabet, the letter ‘T’ has always been my favorite. This sounds like something that would resonate with younger Middle School students. What’s your favorite letter? What if you adopted it and studied it? How many different things could you learn about grammar, writing, and language with a prompt like this?

At the end of Clark’s chapters, he provides a few bullet points that serve as next steps for the reader/writer. Always one to enjoy games and embrace challenges, here goes…

“Make believe you have a favorite letter. Write the letter on a piece of paper and then randomly list words that begin with that letter. Read the words aloud. Consult with the dictionary and write down other interesting words that begin with your letter. Now write a hundred-word profile of your favorite letter.”

My favorite letter is…


Words that begin with ‘T’ (off the top of my head)…
Train, table, tablet, talker, tasty, terrible, two, Tuesday, tomorrow, together, truth, trust, tried, treated, torrential, treatise, treatment, treaty, trick, tick tock, tome’

Other interesting words I found in the dictionary…
tactful, takeoff, tap, takedown, touchdown, target, tax, teach, teammate, technology, tear, technique, t-bone, tai chi, tiny, tendon, Tennessee, tobacco, tattoo, taboo, tenfold, tenor, tepid, terse, tequila, Teddy

100 Word Profile
Throwing my mind back in time, I recall a forever fondness for the letter T. As a toddler, trains travelled across the top of my window sill; decorations tastefully tacked up by my mom. Truth, as an absolute, has always intrigued me and captivated my thinking. Tennessee is a place I wouldn’t mind traveling to or, in a somewhat distant tomorrow, residing. Theodore Roosevelt is one of my top five presidents. T is still my favorite letter.

What’s your favorite letter?

New York Times Review of The Glamour of Grammar

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