Today I visited my youngest daughter’s elementary classroom to talk to the kids about the art of writing stories. We are so lucky in that each year this school invites a famous children’s author to discuss their work and their process of writing. The PTO pays for that. I came as an everyday-someone who had realized their dream of writing a book, a personal narrative at that which is what the kids were working on. That can be an empowering thing, to know that “regular” people can do something as cool as publish a book.
We talked about how to collect ideas (many writers have a handy notebook to jot down ideas as they float by), to write using lots of descriptions so that the reader can “live” their story, and to add their feelings and thoughts. Then there is that editing part – a friend who does not know the story is very useful to identify sections that don’t make sense and to help double-check spelling and grammar. And no, Spell Check does not catch all the spelling mistakes.
The kids were very attentive, asked lots of questions and were happy to discuss any difficulties they were having. And they were just astonished to learn that they themselves could “publish” a simple book by typing their story on a computer, adding photos or drawings or graphics, creating a cover, and printing the pages out and taking them to the nearest copy shop to be xeroxed and nicely bound. I think that Office Depot and Kinko’s will have some kid business soon.
Living and Teaching the Writing Workshop by Kristen Painter is a new book recommended to teachers who want to learn to become better writers themselves and so be able to teach from their experiences. What a great idea!