Like many writers, I started writing stories as soon as I was able to put sentences together. My Barbie dolls and stuffed animals went on many adventures, and it is only now I realize I was beginning to use my imagination then to build story-telling skills.
Creativity Is Important, Too
It is so important to celebrate and nurture creativity and artistic skills in children. Unfortunately, the Arts are often pushed to the background, or ignored entirely, in favor of learning more practical life skills (Common core math, anyone?). And there is no telling how the upcoming generation will evolve as far as creativity is concerned, considering their increasing dependence on the internet and technology.
Awesome Young Authors
So I was pleased to read an article recently in a local paper where children participated in a creative writing project, called the Awesome Young Authors program. In the program, nine second grade students were paired with High School students who were on the Teaching as a Profession track. Each Friday for two months, they worked together to improve the children’s vocabulary and reading fluency, and to develop their voice as budding authors. Then each young author wrote and “published” their own book (one hard copy was made).
Unfortunately, I was unable to find a link online, but there were many smiling faces in the photos accompanying the article. Once the program was complete, the Awesome Young Authors were driven by stretch limousine to a ceremony at the High School’s Media Center, where a standing room only crowd awaited. They each had a turn to read their books aloud, and were presented with their own “Buddy Book” by their mentors, which included personal encouragement for them to work hard in school, read every day, and to follow their dreams.
One young author was quoted as saying, “I don’t want this day to end, I want to keep being famous!”
NaNo Is Not Just For Grown-ups
A writer friend of mine is also a teacher and she encouraged her class of fifth graders to participate in a version of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November of last year. Their goal for one month was to write a minimum of 100 words per day. For each 200 words, a sticker was placed on a NaNoWriMo chart, which kept them motivated. The teacher reported that all kids who participated made the goal, completing their stories by month end. She said they also publish a class book from time to time, which includes short stories the young authors have written called Student Treasures, and the kids really enjoy that, too.
Lots of Links
Looking online, I found several links for children who are interested in writing. Scholastic.com has writing prompts, and you can even choose your genre and theme. Stone Soup features stories, poems and art by kids; and Kids On The Net is a sort of Wattpad for kids.
These are just a few ideas, and I am sure there are tons of great ways to get kids started. Let them enjoy it, while they are still unconcerned about all the pressures and negative aspects that go along with being an author. There will be time enough for that. But let’s begin with the fun stuff, get their creative juices flowing, and maybe they’ll have a better chance at making their writing dreams come true.
Any further ideas on how to get young writers started?