For my birthday I treated myself to an afternoon at the used book store. I came across the book Rhetoric and Writing by W. Ross Winterowd. I spent a little time flipping through it, noticed that it had some exercises, and bought it. I am always on the look out for books that will help me teach my kids. I don’t know anything about rhetoric, but I keep reading that it is a good thing to know.  The book would set me back $2. If I didn’t like it, it wouldn’t be a huge loss.

Actually, I am very pleased with my little find. In the intro

This book attempts to present theory and practice; it goes beyond the mere and often dull and sophomoric question of “how to” into the more exciting question of “why?” And in posing questions and answers, it attempts to achieve scholarly respectability within the framework of rhetoric as discipline.

Ok, I thought to myself. That sounds pretty good. I scanned the Table of Contents a little more closely.

Chapter 1- Writing as a Moral Act

Chapter 2-Invention

Chapter 3-Building the Case

Chapter 4-Arrangement (this looks particularly good)

Chapter 5-Style (including passive voice, irony, and metaphors)

Chapter 6- Problems in Rhetoric: Assignments for Writing (or why I bought this book in the first place)

Other than the instruction, the book contains superb writing examples. I plan on using this to help both my son and daughter this year. Winterowd states

If any essay that you write has no other purpose than getting a grade in a composition course, then you have abdicated your responsiblity.

Ouch. That pretty much sums up all the essays that I have ever written. I can’t imagine ever thinking about writing any other way because it isn’t my favorite thing to do. The author goes on to say what writing should be.

It should serve as perhaps the most rewarding kind of self-expression ( a purging of one’s soul, as it were), and at the same time it should serve as the means whereby the intelligent, responsible person goes on record as caring about fundamental issues.

What a gift it would be to give my kids the ability to write their thoughts and feeling with clarity and purpose. I hope this book will help them.

And all that for only $2!

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