Writing Develops Creativity, Expression, and Concentration: How to encourage a reluctant writer or an already inspired young author
(Artwork from Marianne Richmond's Hooray for You!)
Maybe your child already has plans to be the next J. K. Rowling, keenly writing away at their desk every day, or perhaps your child is a reluctant writer, not wanting to complete their social studies journal assignment. Either way, it's Encourage a Young Writer Day and we have something to celebrate! We have some tips and ideas to help your child bloom into an eager writer or expand and grow their love for writing and reading they already have.
Tips to Share with Your Young Writers
• Read, and read often.
• Read with a pen and notebook nearby.
• Write, and write often.
• Write about passions, experiences, real life (or imaginary life works too!).
• Write from the heart.
• Follow your curious mind.
• Learn form and structure first.
• Use family and friends to find character inspiration.
• Be observant. Bring a notebook wherever you go, writing down notes or interesting things that could later make it into a story, poem, or essay.
• Be daring with your words. Keep an interesting word log and record new words you come across—words you don't know or words you don't use very often. Other books you're reading or listening to others' conversations are great ways to collect interesting words or tidbits.
Ways to Encourage Your Young Writers
• Make writing/journaling dates together. Go to a special local spot to grab a hot chocolate or smoothie, and bring your pens or pencils, journals or laptops. Write about what you observe, or how the smoothie tastes, or what you're most looking forward to over the summer. Writing by hand is always helpful for younger writers and readers, but if typing on a computer is more inspiring for him or her—let them go for it.
• Encourage your child to share their work with you. Make sure you find three or four things to praise, and one suggestion to improve their work. It can be a school piece or something fun your child did at home.
• Read together daily, as part of your routine. Or, if your child is older, check in and make sure your child is open to reading for leisure. Of course you can, and should, still read together too!
• When you're reading together, ask your child to point out his or her favorite words, or words her or she doesn't know. Write them down in a journal, and look them up together. Later your child will have an entire well of word possibilities when feeling stumped.
• Celebrate your child's imagination, always encouraging them to unleash their wildest thoughts and stories. Who knows—it could be the next Alice's Adventures in Wonderland or James and the Giant Peach!
• Be as encouraging as possible, offering your child affirmation and positive reinforcement in their creative work.
Easy Writing Activities for Writers of All Ages
• Make lists. Start with simple topics, like "10 things that remind you of spring" or "Five of your favorite animals." Then, see how your child can incorporate these ideas into a story, essay, or poem. Remember, they can be as imaginative as they'd like!
• Use artwork, pictures, or photos for inspiration. You can even see if your child would rather draw a picture first before writing. Then they can use that drawing to create a story. Hint: These make great character or setting sketches!
• Write a how-to piece. Let your child choose write about what their favorite thing to make, do, or practice is. For example, if she loves to ride bikes with friends, let her see if she can put together interesting directions on how to ride a bike. (It's harder than you probably think!) This allows the writer to really strip down their writing technique and get to the core of their writing. It's just a great way to practice simplifying your writing.
• Make an "I Remember" collage. This exercise is inspired by author Joe Brainard, who wrote a collection of memories using "I Remember" at the start of each recollection. You should definitely do one too! Then, come together and read them out loud. You'll even sense a poem unfolding as you read/write these.
A Few Resources
Check out Second Story Window for some fun, prompted writing activities for kids, including workbooks, worksheets, etc. For example, find writing activities and crafts for each month of the year here.
Reading & Writing Readiness Pinterest board has some great resources for kids' writing and storytelling activities as well.
Inspiring Personalized Book for Young Writers
Hooray for You! Personalized Book
Hooray for You! is the perfect gift to show someone how special they really are. What better way to celebrate a child's unique traits than by giving them a personalized book made just for them?
More Bears! Personalized Book
Warning: More Bears! is not a bedtime story—it was written to be read (and yelled!) out loud. This delightfully silly personalized book is sure to have your child calling out "More Bears!" within the first few pages!
Happy St. Patrick's Day from Put Me In The Story! Write a limerick or two in celebration of the Irish! We'll show you how...
(Artwork from Marianne Richmond's Hooray for You!)
Whether you're Irish or not, writing limericks (or any form of poetry, really) is fun! A limerick is a short, funny riddle or poem that rhymes in a well-defined form. Limericks are only five lines long and because they're so short and rhythmic, they're quite easy to memorize and tons of fun to read aloud.
Since it's almost St. Patrick's Day, we thought it would be fun for you to sit down with your kids and do a little creative writing exercise to celebrate the Irish. It's very easy!
Here's what you need to know about a limerick's ingredients:
• The form consists of a stanza of just five lines.
• Lines 1, 2, and 5 share the same rhyme and are considered the longer lines.
• Lines 3 and 4 should rhyme with each other and are usually shorter.
• They have a fun storytelling rhythm that's great for reading aloud.
• They're usually silly—so be sure to encourage your child to find a good punch line!
The Art of Rhyming a Limerick:
• A limerick's rhyme scheme is AABBA. The "A's" in the rhyme scheme represent lines 1, 2, and 5, which are the lines that rhyme with one another. The "B's" in the rhyme scheme represent lines 3 and 4, which rhyme with each other.
• The number of syllables in each line vary, but lines 1, 2, and 5 have around 8 syllables with 3 that are accented and lines 3 and 4 have around 5 syllables with 2 that are accented. This forms the beat (or the fun rhythm!).
• Think of Mother Goose's old nursery rhyme as a guide for rhythm and beat:
Hickory, dickory, dock,
The mouse ran up the clock;
The clock struck one
And down he run,
Hickory, dickory, dock
Tips to Get Started:
• Brainstorm a general subject, topic, or character for your limerick.
• Make a list of fun words that rhyme and relate to your limerick's topic.
• If you don't know where to start, start with the line: "There once was…" and go on to find five more syllables. For Example, There once was a girl from Nantucket
• Encourage your child to include a simile in their limerick! A simile is a comparison between two things using the words "like" or "as."
Here are the materials you'll need to start:
• A pen, pencil, crayon—any sort of writing utensil will do!
• A piece of paper (preferably a green one, cut in the shape of a shamrock)
• An imagination!
Put Me In The Story's Limerick Examples:
There once was a girl named Isabella
Whose hair was as purple as that Barney fellah
Her imagination would roar
Her dreams would soar
And it was all because she'd say "My name is not Isabella"
There once was a boy named Alexander
Whose mind decided to take a gander
He imagined he was Thomas Edison
And then Jackie Robinson
All because he thought: "My name is not Alexander"