Monday, November 8, 2010

Legacy Writers: What Will Your Kids Do?

Tip of the Day: The best way to get a good night's sleep after the Daylight Savings Time switch is to break out the cozy flannel sheets for the season.

On Saturday, my daughter and I volunteered at the 14th annual Rochester Children's Book Festival. We had a blast! We were stationed in the Read to Me corner, setting up picture book authors to read their books to happy kid audiences. My daughter was Technology Girl, clipping the authors with microphones. I introduced the authors and timed their talks to make sure they didn't go over, and a local children's librarian helped me with introductions and had the hard job of entertaining the little ones in between authors. The three of us were a great team. At the end of the day, my 12-year-old got to do her favorite job: giving out helium balloons to the kids.

It got me thinking: my kids have a leg up on this literature thing. This year, my daughter is disappointed because her English class is reading The Westing Game, and she's already read it with me and knows the answer to the mystery. Both my kids have lots of books (I've never resisted the pull of a book sale), and in fact, they both have lots of personalized, signed books. I read to each of them several times a week. They meet my writer friends. I look over their homework for spelling and punctuation. And I expose them to events like the Children's Book Festival. Add to that all the times they listen to my rants on revision and how "one day the rivers will run red with the blood of those who can't spell," and I think if they ever wanted to be writers, it would make sense. They're all primed for it.

It's probably similar for your kids. It makes writers who run in the family seem reasonable. (Not so much politicians. I suppose it's the same principle, but it seems too Divine Right to Rule for America somehow.)

My parents weren't writers, but my mother dragged me to the library every other week. Both my parents are readers. My mother is an artist, and when I decided to be a writer, she congratulated me on my willingness to take criticism and told me that would be the crucial factor in my success. (Neither of them can spell, but I suspect they'll be spared when the revolution comes and the Phonics rises from the ashes.)

How did you get primed in childhood to be a writer? What do you do to prime today's kids (your own or somebody else's) to be tomorrow's writers?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages


Lisa Schroeder said...

One thing that's really helped my son's reading and writing is his middle school has "literacy class" which is 30 minutes every other day of free reading, along with writing book reviews and learning stems. They also listen to a book being read by the teacher sometimes, and have tests on it.

I work hard to make sure G has a book he enjoys for literacy class. He's definitely a reluct. reader, but his writing test scores have come up over the past couple of years, and I think it's because he's read so much more than he used to.

I really wish teachers would understand how important it is to allow kids to read books THEY want to read. It's not wasted class time at all, in my not so humble opinion.

DeenaML said...

Kate, what a great day for you and M to do together! I wish the YALSA Con wasn't the same weekend, but it sounds like RACWI did a great job as usual. :)

DeenaML said...

Oh, and Lisa, it totally makes a difference when a kid has a book he connects with instead of being "forced" to read certain things. Sounds like a great class!