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This Is Not a Test

By Aaron Shepard

Printed in Once Upon A Time, Fall 2005


For more resources, visit Aaron Shepard’s Kidwriting Page at
www.aaronshep.com/kidwriter

Copyright © 2003 by Aaron Shepard. May be freely copied and shared for any noncommercial purpose as long as no text is altered or omitted.


I regret that I no longer permit use of my stories or scripts for educational testing. I’m sorry for any inconvenience.

Book cover: Adventures in Writing for ChildrenIt wasn’t easy to write. I hate to say no to people. And I don’t like turning away money. In fact, it wasn’t long ago that I was planning a marketing campaign to sell my writing to test publishers.

But I haven’t been able to shake the image of some kid sitting and sweating over one of my stories while struggling to come up with answers to please the teacher. Anxiety, competition, ambition, fear—are these the emotions I want associated with my stories?

I remember hearing Jim Trelease talk about how teachers can and do easily turn kids away from reading by turning it into a chore, a source of information for filling in exercise sheets. In one classroom, a teacher told her students about her reading every night before bedtime and asked why they thought she did that. Their answer: for “practice.” Her students didn’t understand that people could read for the pleasure of it.

I want my stories to be sources of joy—not achievement, not approval, not advancement. And yes, I do want teachers to use them—in fact, that’s what I aim for. But please, not to deaden the love of reading. Not to make students cringe at the sight of a printed page. Not to make them see story as a tool of control.

And so,

I regret that I no longer permit use of my stories or scripts for educational testing. I’m sorry for any inconvenience.