Thursday, August 14, 2014

Whatever You Are, Be a Good One

Whatever You Are, Be a Good One: 100 Inspirational Quotations Hand-Lettered by Lisa Congdon
Chronicle Books, 2014

Why am I just learning about this artist? Why have I not been following a blog entitled, "Today is going to be awesome"?

I love this little book because I love quotes and I love calligraphy and I love giving myself crazy challenges (like writing a poem a day, or taking 30 pictures every month and then making a mosaic).

That's pretty much how this book was born (minus the poetry and photos). Lisa Congdon noticed that she gravitated toward art that included lettering, decided she wanted to get better at calligraphy, and then started a project where she published something hand lettered on her blog every day for a year in 2012: 365 Days of Hand Lettering. I could get lost in her archives. It's pretty amazing that she started by just doing single letters that look clunky and forced, but within a month, her own unique style began to emerge. And then she started doing quotes. They are beautiful...unique...a perfect marriage of text and art.

Last year, instead of posting any class rules, I challenged each student to choose their very own "Words to Live By." Instead of one set of generic rules for 20+ individual students, we had 20+ individual rules to represent the fact that each person is the boss of his/her own self.

This year I want to help my students think about the graphic design of their Words to Live By posters that will hang around the classroom all year long. This will be our mentor text.


  1. My students chose a personal quote each year and designed them on tag, then we laminated them, Mary Lee, so they could be taped to their desks. I wish I had had this book then. It looks beautiful. I did have them reflect on what they had chosen once in a while, and at the beginning, they shared why the quote was an important one to them. Hope you enjoy this with your students.

  2. I want this book! And I want to go back and read through 365 Days blog! And I want to try this!

  3. I love the thought of you individualizing the Rules to Live By! That is fantastic. I, too, am a fan of calligraphy/word art/doodling, and lovelovelove quotes. So. Adding this book to my wish list! Thank you for sharing! xo

  4. Brilliant and I am so thankful you wrote this blog post to share your thinking. I ordered 4 books. One for me and three for Christmas presents!

  5. This sounds wonderful! I'm afraid to even click on that blog link--sounds like a black hole or meandering for me, because I adore stuff like this. Tx for the recommendation. And I love the idea of having your students write their OWN Words to Live By. Mary Lee, you rock.

  6. Your words to live by project is such a good one!!

  7. Can't wait to get a copy of the book! Just bookmarked 365 days of hand lettering. Can't wait to savor it with my WN in hand. Love your Words to Live By posters that your students create. Fabulous way to start the year.

  8. LOVE this book! I featured several of the pages during the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. It is so inspiring!


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