Author Interview: Laura Bettis—Inspired by the Tales of Narnia

Dec 05, 2016 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team

Aslan, Reepicheep, Mr. Tumnus, High King Peter, King Edmund, Queens Lucy and Susan, and the White Witch. If you don’t yet know these characters, you’ll be in for a huge treat as you encounter them for the first time while working through IEW’s Following Narnia theme-based books. The Chronicles of Narnia is one of the most beloved literary series ever written. C.S. Lewis’ riveting tales have delighted children and adults for more than sixty years. The series is also a favorite of IEW author Laura Bettis, who created two theme-based writing lesson books, teaching students the IEW Structure and Style™ Writing Method while they enjoy reading the classic stories of Narnia. We recently spoke with Laura about her IEW journey and her books.

Can you tell us about yourself and your family?

I’ve been married to my husband Craig for twenty-three years and we have three boys. Jeremy is twenty-two, and he is currently serving in the army. Kyle is sixteen and a lifeguard. Joey is fourteen and likes learning how to program in Java. We were a military family for years and years, so we moved around a lot. Homeschooling really made sense. Now we’re in Virginia, and we’ve been here for about thirteen years.

When and how did you discover IEW's Structure and Style?

We were homeschooling for a while, and writing was an area that I really did not know how to teach. I knew the kids weren’t getting good writing instruction. In 2008, I was hired to teach a writing class at a co-op, and they were using IEW. I spent the spring watching Teaching Writing: Structure and Style, doing the assignments, and learning how to teach. After going through it, I realized, ‘Wow this is really easy, and I can do this!’ That’s how I got started teaching IEW.

When did you first get the idea for Following Narnia?

In 2010, there was a Writing Educator’s Symposium. We drove to North Carolina for it, and Andrew Pudewa was the main speaker. I listened to Andrew’s talk “Fairy Tales and the Moral Imagination”, and it showed me there is so much more you can do with IEW. I had a conversation with Andrew, and he mentioned that IEW needed more literature.

I went home and starting writing lessons. Ideas started coming and I thought that maybe I could be doing this with my kids. He was coming to our area again in 2011, so I put something together and showed it to him. I even drew the pictures in the book myself.

Laura recently revised the first book, which is now titled Following Narnia: The Lion’s Song. The second volume has now been released, Following Narnia: Aslan’s Country. Both books are designed for Level B students and assume previous IEW experience, but the second volume is a bit more advanced. Together, the two volumes cover the entire seven volumes of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia world.

What was exciting to you about writing Following Narnia Volume 2?

It’s got three of my favorite books out of the seven. It was great to be able to go through my personal favorites and come up with creative writing assignments for the kids to do. I think there are a lot of assignments that are going to be a joy. There are things for both the girls and the boys in there, for sure.

What is your favorite unit to teach?

Well my favorite has always been Unit 5. It’s funny when people say that it’s not their favorite because I think it’s the perfect blend of structure and creativity. I could spend all year doing Unit 5.

I was able to really pull out some scenes from the Narnia books and the students were able to rewrite those scenes. The students are free to change it if they want—it’s just a picture. It doesn’t have to be about Narnia. It could be about almost anything.

What is the biggest advantage for students using IEW's method?

The biggest advantage is that even if they don’t like writing, they learn to have confidence in their abilities. They realize with IEW they can do their assignments. It’s bite-size increments that build a student’s toolbox. They can use those tools for different assignments, and they have the confidence to do it.

What is most rewarding about being an IEW author?

Just helping those children and even those moms. For myself, not knowing how to write was what made writing the one thing I avoided. I didn’t know how to teach my kids to write a paper properly, much less a story or anything else.

I think giving those moms the confidence and the freedom to be able to teach something like writing is so important. And really it’s so important to all of our subjects. Writing is everywhere, even outside of a ‘real writing class.’ Helping those families is the most rewarding thing to me personally.

What would be the most exciting comments you could hear from parents and students?

Well I’ve heard it many times, but it’s that they now love writing. They, by the end, not only have improved and recognized this improvement, but it has changed their whole mindset.


If your students have been introduced to IEW’s Structure and Style, and you love Lewis’ land of Narnia, pick up one of Laura’s theme-based writing lesson books and prepare to be delightfully challenged. Your students’ imaginations will soar as they meet unique characters like the talking beasts of Narnia, and their writing skills will soar as they incrementally learn IEW’s nine structural models and stylistic techniques.

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