Do you feel that your child writes compositions by just putting down any words that pop into his head? If so, it’s important that he becomes more aware of language and of different words that can be used to say similar things. Challenge your child to create a lipogram, or a piece of writing that omits one specific letter. He'll be surprised at how hard it is to successfully avoid using a given letter!
What You Do:
- Ask your child to write a single sentence leaving out the letter “n.” Your child will probably find this task relatively easy. Explain that a lipogram is a piece of writing that omits one letter—usually a common one—and that various writers have challenged themselves by writing lipograms that exclude different letters or are different lengths.
- Then, ask your child to write a single sentence leaving out the letter “e.” Your child will probably be shocked at the difficulty of this task!
- Show your child some strategies he can use, such as looking up a word in a thesaurus or trying to rewrite the sentence completely, in order to avoid using the letter “e.”
- Encourage your child to try his hand at writing a short story without using the letter “s.” Although this isn’t as hard as writing without using the letter “e,” it should still be quite a challenge.
- Discuss with your child how this process helped him to think about the words he was choosing while writing. Make sure he understands that writers are constantly trying to find just the right word, and that writing a lipogram can help them recognize the supreme importance of word choice.
If your child enjoys this activity encourage him to read some published lipograms. For example, Ernest Vincent Wright’s novel “Gadsby” omits the letter “e.”