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Bill Zimmerman books
bill zimmerman books
bill zimmerman books
bill zimmerman books
bill zimmerman books
bill zimmerman books
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bill zimmerman books

Dear Reader,

View this page as a place where you and I can have a conversation on subjects that are meaningful to both of us. On a regular basis I plan to post a topic or question on my mind which I encourage you to respond to (see below).

On this same page you will also find some of the responses that have been sent in by those who have viewed this web site. Please feel free to submit your own questions and thoughts which I might comment on and share with other viewers. I truly look forward to hearing from you.


Writer’s Prompt: Everyone Wants a Home

April 15th, 2012

There were these heart-breaking photographs in the April 12 Washington Post (‘A moment of calm’ as cease-fire appears to hold, by Liz Sly and Colum Lynch) that shows four Syrian children holding drawings they made at a school in a refugee camp near the Turkish-Syrian border.  They drawings were of their dream homes, and the homes they drew were really no different from the homes that children in the United States or other nations draw about their homes and family.   They all drew a simple home  surrounded with trees or flowers. And looking at the photographs one had to ask oneself why must this madness in Syria go on, why must these children and their families have to live in refugee camps, dispossessed of their homes in Syria.   Why does the world allow this to happen?   Why is the Syrian government allowed to do these terrible things to its people?   What can be done to stop this?  Why can’t the children have what every child needs, a secure home, with loving parents.   Why in the year 2012 are we still allowing these terrible things to happen to people?

Do any of you have any answers to these questions, or thoughts?

WRITER’S PROMPT: What Makes Some People So Brave?

March 25th, 2012

I read the recent obituary of Dr. Tina Strobos, a woman who during World War II  hid more than 100 Jews in her attic in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, not far from where Anne Frank was captured, and I wondered where did she get the courage to do this.   The article in The New York Times quoted her response when asked why she had taken such risk.  ”It’s the right thing to do…Your conscience tells you to do it.  I believe in heroism…” (See March 2, 2012

I couldn’t help wondering whether I would be so brave as she was in living through such a terrible period in history, risking my life to help others.  I would want to believe I would be, but who knows for sure until the situation arises.   I can only thank God that there are such people as Tina Strobos in the world — it gives one hope about the infinite goodness and mercy that reside in people despite the terrors of war and the pain, hurt and hunger that so many people face in their daily lives.

WRITER’S PROMPT: The Words of the Great Dr. King

January 9th, 2012

Listen to the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered in a sermon, ”The Drum Major Instinct,” February 4, 1968 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta:

”Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice; say that I was a drum major for peace; I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind…”
He also said:
”We all have the drum major instinct. We all want to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction, to lead the parade. … And the great issue of life is to harness the drum major instinct. It is a good instinct if you don’t distort it and pervert it. Don’t give it up. Keep feeling the need for being important. Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be the first in love. I want you to be the first in moral excellence. I want you to be the first in generosity.”

Can we live up to his words? Can each of us possess the ”drum major instinct” to do fine acts? What fine acts would you like to do?

WRITER’S PROMPT: What Would You Say to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.?

January 9th, 2012

My other web site,, has posted a new writing printable for Martin Luther King Day at
It asks: Imagine that you could tell the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. what he means to you and our country. What would you say to him?

The MLK graphic prompt is part of a new MakeBeliefsComix writing prompt feature called Digital Write-Ables which allows users to use their computer keyboard and write stories directly on the screen as they fill in the writing prompt. They then can print out their writings. Their efforts to complete the Write-Able can then become the first step in writing longer essays or stories on the same subject. The Write-Ables can also be used with students enrolled in literacy and English-As-Second Language (ESL, ESOL) programs and provide an educational resource for teaching language arts.

WRITER’S PROMPT: The Holiday Lights

December 13th, 2011

When I was a boy and Christmas came around, my happiest chore was to unbox a small artificial Christmas tree and set it up on the night table in the bedroom I shared with my brother.   I loved to plug it in and look at the beautiful colored lights — they made me feel so safe at night, protected against the dark.   We were Jews living in a building that was largely made up of Jewish families in an Italian neighborhood and I think my parents were afraid of the neighbors knowing that we celebrated Christmas (although my brother and I received Channukah presents, too).   I never wanted December to end — not so much for the presents, as wonderful as they were, but for the bright, colored lights which somehow eased all the anxiety and tension I felt growing up in a household beset by so many financial and emotional problems.   I still feel that way about the Christmas lights today.

Please share what the holidays were like for you, too.

How About Creating Daily Comix Diaries?

September 16th, 2011

Dear readers,

If you’re looking for an exciting new literacy activity for the new school year why not start a daily 20-minute comic strip segment during which your students create a comic diary about something they learned or read or experienced that day?   Creating such daily comix diaries provides a way for students to digest and integrate key material that they are taught as well as to reflect on their lives and experiences. And what better way for all students, including English Language Learners, to improve writing, reading and storytelling skills!

To help educators and parents,, the free online comic strip generator, has launched a Daily Comix Diary Page offering many ideas at

Students can also draw their own comics with pencil or crayons and use stick figures or  pictures cut from magazines.  By making their own comic strips, students will realize that they can create stories and make art. They will learn that they, too, are capable of generating their own learning materials, their own memoirs, and that their ‘’take’’ on the world is so very special – everyone sees things differently.

What to draw and write about?

.For starters, why not  have students create autobiographical comic strips about themselves and their families or summarizing the most important things about their lives?  Let each student select a cartoon character as a surrogate to represent him or her. They might  also summarize what their individual interests are or some key moments in their lives.

.Maybe students create a comic strip with a new ending for a book that they’ve read,  or an extension of the story, or a deeper exploration of a character in the book.

.Maybe theirs is a comic strip using new vocabulary learned that day.

.Maybe their comic is about a concept they learned in science or in social studies.

.Maybe their comic captures  an interesting conversation they overheard.

.Maybe their comic is about something  sad or bad that happened to them, such as someone bullying them.  Or about something special,  such as a birthday wish.

.Maybe their comic is about something fun or wonderful that they or a friend experienced – perhaps an adventure they had. Or, about a great or important memory they will never forget.

.Maybe their daily comic contains a joke they heard or something funny a parent said to them recently.

.Maybe they’re exploring a problem at home that’s bothering them, such as a sibling who’s driving them crazy.

.Maybe their comic strip is a fantasy story that came to their imagination.

.Or, how about creating a political comic strip commenting on some new development in government or a news event?

Now, imagine the student’s comic-filled sketch book or folder containing daily diary entries created over the course of a year that will trace each  child’s thoughts and learning, that will reflect what was important to her or him. They’ll have composed a comic book diary that they will treasure for the rest of their lives.

Most important, the 20-minute-a-day daily comix diary challenge offers students the chance to become creators as they find their voice, rather than just passive learners. What better gift can you give them?  Please try this and send me your feedback.


Bill Zimmerman,




WRITER’S PROMPT: Courageous People

July 14th, 2011

President Obama this week (July 12, 2011) presented the Medal of Honor to Sgt. First Class Leroy Petry.  It is the nation’s highest military award presented for acts of gallantry beyond what duty demands.  On May 26, 2008, then-Staff Sgt. Petry was part of a Ranger unit assaulting a Taliban compound in a province along the Pakistani border.  Wounded and under fire, he grabbed a Taliban granade that had landed just inches from two other other fellow soldiers, only to have it explode as he tried to throw it away.  The explosion severed his hand.  One of the two soldiers wrote afterwards, “If not for Staff Sgt. Petry’s actions, we would have been seriously wounded or killed.”   The photos in the newspapers show the President pinning the medal around Sgt. Petry’s neck and then shaking hands with him — the officer wears a prosthetic hand.

Only 31 years old, the married soldier is the father of four children.

To read about him brings tears to one’s eyes, and admiration in one’s heart.  How could so young a person be so brave?    How fortunate this nation is to have soldiers like Sgt. Petry defending it.

What brave people do you know?  Please share with us.

Writer’s Prompts: Two new ideas

June 1st, 2011

Here are two writers’ prompts that I discovered in Language Arts magazine (May 2011) in an article, ”Spilling Ink: Writing in the Play Zone,” written by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter — they may spark some ideas in your own writing.

.”Write a story in which your character opens up a door that no one has been allowed to open in 200 years.”

.”Write a story in which a panicked man runs up to you, hands you a box, and says, ‘Take good care of this!’ then runs off.”

Please send your own writing prompts, too, and we’ll share them together.

New Version of Set for May 24

May 21st, 2011

Hope you’ll take a look at my other web site,, where on Tuesday, May 24, we’ll be launching new characters and features for this comic-strip generating

site.   Would welcome your feedback/ bill

WRITER’S PROMPT: Your Note to Aliens

May 11th, 2011

If you were to send a message to a potential extraterrestrial into space, how would it read?

That was the subject of a writing contest of Arizona children.  In talking about this contest, Stephen Hawking, the psysicist, said, ”It assumes that an intelligent extraterrestrial life form has already made contact with us and we need to formulate a reply. The competition asks school-age students to think creatively and scientifically in order to find a way to explain human life on this planet to some inquisitive aliens. I have no doubt that if we are ever contacted by such beings, we would want to respond. I also think it is an interesting question to pose to young people as it requires them to think about the human race and our planet as a whole. It asks students to define who we are and what we have done,” said Dr. Hawking.

If you were writing such a message, what would you say?