The 3 R’s: Reading, (w)Riting & Relationships
The 3 R’s: Reading, (w)Riting & Relationships

The 3 R’s: Reading, (w)Riting & Relationships

While writing one of The Adirondack Kids® book a year for 18 years we have followed a fairly consistent annual schedule. In the summer we decide what the next story is going to be about (see blog #28!) and begin doing any ‘live’ research.


This may involve hiking, paddling, scuba diving or interviewing professionals in their areas of expertise. We have spoken to experts on loons and turtles, horseback riding and ice hockey.

A friend of mine in the film industry helped us keep the action in one of our stories – The Adirondack Kids® #8: Escape from Black Bear Mountain – accurate and plausible.

We continue research in the autumn and then begin outlining the story. As winter approaches, there is the writing and then editing and proofing over the cold winter months. The new book is then printed and released in late spring or early summer.

Autumn is also when our school visits begin. School visits are among the most important activities we do beyond writing the books themselves.

Every year now for nearly two decades we have had the privilege of sharing with thousands of students our experiences as a father-and-son team reading and writing together. We get to take the mystique out of the book-writing process and help children realize that they can really do it. They learn that they, too, can write stories, poems, essays, song lyrics, screenplays, letters to the editor – and that the more they read, the better writers they will become.

If we were to name the title of our presentation, it would be: The 3 R’s” Reading, (w)Riting & Relationships.

When we began this whole literary sojourn we were not even thinking about writing an entire book. I (Gary) just wanted Justin to have a command of the English language and to be able to express himself well when writing and speaking in public. So we started writing about adventures that might take place at our family’s Adirondack camp.

I never dreamed that before becoming a teenager he would not only have a good handle on the craft of writing, but would also be comfortable speaking on the radio, on television and at conferences and schools before hundreds of people and by age 28 would have helped develop a series that would sell tens of thousands of books. (The photo at the top of the blog is Justin doing his first public presentation in 2001. Borders sold more than 100 Adirondack Kids books that day.)

Not surprisingly, research has shown that parents are the key to their children achieving success at school and in life. Reading aloud to them as they are growing up from infancy has proven critical. And modeling reading before them. Dads as well as moms!

Among those 3 R’s, the most important is that third one: Relationship.

What has been your experience(s) reading aloud to your children or grandchildren?



Mark Manske with his birds of prey has joined us almost every year for Adirondack Kids Day™. And he's coming again this year! It's just a week away on Saturday, October 6 in Inlet, NY. Hope to see you there!




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