Opening up the world of writing to kids.

childrens-writing-SATsA while back I talked about how a trip to Cuba had really inspired me, and how travelling in general really motivates me to want to write more. Well, it looks like it’s not just adults who benefit from new experiences when it comes to improving their writing. Some new studies from England are showing that the writing skills of kids who go on memorable field trips at school improve dramatically.

Schools participated in a program called “Improving Writing Quality,” where children were taken on day trips to exciting venues like zoos, castles, caves, for example. Afterwards they would have sessions where they’d write about the experience. Then they tracked their writing skills over nine months, and guess what?  Dramatic improvements!

This is great news, and I’m excited to read it. I really hope that schools here in Canada will follow England’s lead on this one. Because I think one of the most important things to remember when it comes to education, is that not everything can be learned from a book. And even if it can be learned in a book, imagine how much more exciting the learning process is if you actually get to see and experience the things you’re reading about!

And the more experiences children have, the more of the world they’re exposed to, the more their imaginations will grow, they more their horizons will broaden. So if you really want to do your children or grandchildren a favour, share an adventure with them! Not only will you have the pleasure of spending quality time with them, but you’ll be helping to improve their futures. And who knows, you may be helping to create the next J.K. Rowling!

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Terror lurking with each curve of the pen

vintage-halloween-decor-ideaIt’s a big month for those who crave the creepiness of ghosties, ghoulies, and long-legged beasties! Without a doubt, fans of fear look forward to October more than any other time of the year. I’m sure most of you can guess from my last book that I do enjoy a little walk on the darker side of life.

Last year, around this time, I shared some tips for helping kids to get into the Halloween spirit by writing their own ghostly scary stories. Since I always love encouraging children to grow creatively, I thought I’d do the same again this time around!

First on the list is a short video from the History Channel on the origins of the holiday. It’s accompanied by some very different writing prompts, for a little older age group and it encourages them to write more in the non-fiction vein. Check it out here. 

The second site I found is for just about anyone who wants to indulge in some frightful fun, and it’s just great! Figment’s Fright ‘N Write has a great interactive site that provides you with three creepy images to incorporate into a story. And even better is the fact that you can send in your entries to their competition. You have until October 31st to enter and trust me, they’ve got some fabulous images to stir your dark imaginings.

Happy writing everyone, and I’d love to see what you create!

The gift of imagination is priceless

imagination libraryI came across a news article the other day that I wanted to share with you all. It’s not the most uplifting piece, but I think it’s important for us all to think about.

This isn’t really ‘news’, in the sense that most of us know that children from poorer face so many more challenges on so many different levels. But in a lot of ways, I think it’s something we’re not doing enough about. That’s why I was so happy to hear about a project started by someone you might be surprised by: Dolly Parton!

Yes, Miss 9-5 herself is doing an incredible service to help low-income children beat the odds when it comes to literacy. It’s called the Imagination Library, and here’s how it works. Starting it in her home state of Tennessee, she designed a program where children’s books are mailed directly to the homes of children age 0-5, across the region—no matter what their income.

It’s become such a success that it’s been able to expand, even to Canada! It’s not available everywhere, but parents can register online to see if they’re children are eligible.

I honestly think that a great book is one of the best gifts you can give a child. I still remember vividly reading Heidi as a youngster and how deeply the story touched me. And more than that, it inspired my love for story-telling and lit the spark for my own writing. I think that anything so simple that can inspire that kind of a passion in a child is well worth our attention. So take a look at the work The Dollywood Foundation, and I hope you’ll be inspired to think about how you can instil the love of books in the youngsters in your communities!