This summer I had the pleasure of hanging out with the children of a dear college friend. Ages 9 and 10, these girls love to read. Their faces lit up when I told them I’m a writer. It didn’t take long before they began asking me questions about what I do and how I got started. They both talked about loving to write, but not necessarily enjoying they kind of writing they do at school.
What a shame!
When I was in elementary school our district hosted a local Young Authors & Illustrators contest. As part of our school curriculum, students wrote and illustrated books for class. Those books were then submitted to district judges who assessed the books and selected winners from each school to attend a one-day conference at the community college. A group of 1st-6th grade kids spent the day with local writers and artists, learning different aspects of book production. Every year it encouraged and excited me. I cried when I was in 6th grade and aged out of the program.
As I talked with my new young friends, I realized how special our district program was. These poor kids don’t have an outlet. Outside of regular school work, they don’t have any other writing opportunities. They can compose at home, but it doesn’t have the same level of excitement as a group of like-minded children and adults getting together to support and encourage their passions. I would love to create a similar program for these youngsters, but we live on opposite sides of the country. Even if I could, that would leave millions of children with nothing to write except the occasional school paper.
Still, I want to do what I can, so I’ve found a few opportunities for these girls (and any other young adults who want to do some writing):
1. Starsongs Magazine: Written for kids, by kids – I know two young ladies (ages 14) who have had poetry published in this magazine. Check out past issues here.
2. Launch Pad: For kids 6-14 years-old, Launch Pad has an easy-to-submit format for receiving poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, as well as illustrations. Find out more here.
3. PBS Kids Writers Contest: For the youngest writers, this contest lets your Kindergarten through 3rd graders give their writing skills a test. Check out the guidelines and read past winning stories here.
If you know a young writer, please help him or her find an outlet. The world can never have too many talented writers!