The next generation of authors might just be sitting in the plastic, uncomfortable desk chairs that I have strategically arranged so that they are not sitting next to someone that they will talk with during my entire lesson.
As a reading teacher, I have the opportunity to engage students at a deeper level. I learn what they love to read and what they hate to read. Some kids hand get their hands on High Fantasy fast enough, while others would rather sit with a NonFiction book about Radiology than pick up a book about a world that doesn’t exist. In these conversations though, I learn about those who dream to be published authors. As sixth graders, they already have stories in their heads but they don’t know how to get them down on paper.
So I started a club. The Future Authors Club, open to middle school students 6th-8th grade at the school that I teach. Let me tell you this, our first meeting hadn’t even ended yet and I felt like I was making a difference. To hear the stories that these kids have been waiting to tell completely floors me. They are so young but they have dreams and drive that is going to take them so far in life.
I first set them up on NaNoWriMo’s Young Author’s Program. They got to choose their Pen Name (which they thought was SO COOL) and they got to start mapping out their stories. I have a very wide range of genres that they want to write in. From High Fantasy to Hard Science Fiction.
At our second meeting they learned how important research is to their story and they couldn’t wait to get on the internet to look up maps of the world, how to translate certain words into Latin, and to find pictures that matched the characters that still were stuck in their head.
At our third meeting they were introduced to a cover making website called Canva. They had a blast created a visual for the story they were developing. Again and again they surprise me with their high energy and willingness to try new things. They already are having open discussions about their stories with their peers – getting feedback and assistance when they are stuck.
In April they will participate in our own version of Camp NaNoWriMo and set their own word count to achieve. Then, if they complete their manuscript I have offered up to them my services of doing basic editing and formatting and then submitting their manuscripts to LuLu so that they can have a physical copy of the very first book they wrote.
These kids are the next generation of authors and they are already going leaps and bounds above my expectations. I wish I had had this club when I was middle school and scribbling stories down in a notebook when I should have been paying attention to the math lesson. I can’t wait to read their stories when they are finished and I hope one day I will find their name on the New York Best Seller’s List.
❤ Caycee and the Wordwraiths