Learn Letter Writing with Arfy

Can I Be Your Dog?

Can I Be Your Dog? By Troy Cummings

CAN I BE YOUR DOG shares the tale of Arfy, a homeless dog who lives in a box in an alley. Arfy writes to every person on Butternut Street about what a great pet he’d make. His letters to prospective owners share that he’s house broken, has his own squeaky bone, and can learn to live with cats! But no one wants him. Won’t anyone open their heart–and home–to a lonesome dog? Readers will be happily surprised to learn just who steps up to adopt Arfy.

Troy Cummings’ hilarious and touching story showcases many different styles of letter writing, making it appealing to parents and teachers looking to teach the lost art of written communication.

Arfy’s letters to the residents of Butternut Street are a great introduction to letter writing for your youngest readers and writers.  Arfy’s creative approach to persuasive writing will encourage your students to express themselves with letters.

From NCTE’s ReadWriteThink, here are some ways you can help your students master persuasive writing:

  • Have students listen to and analyze various persuasive speeches and writings in the media (e.g., newspapers, magazines, television, and the Internet), looking for words, phrases, and techniques (e.g., reasons, repetition, counterarguments, comparisons) that are designed to persuade. This improves critical reading and thinking skills.
  • Break down the elements of a persuasive speech or piece of writing: an introduction that states the position clearly, at least three pieces of evidence to support the position, and a conclusion that restates the topic and summarizes the main points.
  • Challenge students to address what people currently believe about the issue so that they can convince them to change through counterarguments.
  • Find authentic opportunities for students to write persuasive letters to family or community, speeches, classified advertisements, and other persuasive pieces. After a unit on recycling, for example, students could write a persuasive letter to their families to convince them to recycle more. Or students might write to their school librarian and try to convince him or her to purchase something in particular for the library.
  • Incorporate peer review techniques so students analyze and improve each other’s persuasive arguments (oral or written).
  • Challenge students to differentiate fact and opinion from an article. Start by discussing short examples to see if students understand the difference.

For more ideas and materials to teach letter writing and other persuasive forms of writing, visit ReadWriteThink.