“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison
Like anything, literacy skills develop as we use them. The more we write, the better we become at communicating clearly and expressing our ideas. Writing does not need to be limited to paragraphs and novel studies; however, any time we use words to communicate on paper, we are developing our literacy skills. Unfortunately, for many students writing can feel like a chore. Completing assignments for teachers can be stressful for children who are not confident in their abilities, and this can limit their enjoyment of a task that should be engaging. Consider one of the following ideas to encourage a genuine love of writing in your child.
1. Make a scrapbook! Empty scrapbooks make fantastic gifts, especially at the beginning of the summer holidays! You can buy beautiful ready-made scrapbooks, or make one with your child out of a binder or notebook. Decorate the cover and give it a title (“The Incredible Adventures of _____”). Then spend the summer filling it up with pictures, notes, letters, and mementos.
2. Perform a play! Drama is a great way to bring literacy to life for active kids. Invite your child to choose his or her favourite book and work together to adapt it into a play. Younger kids will enjoy acting out the stories (great for building understanding of sequencing and plot development), while older siblings can work on writing a script, rehearsing lines, and performing with confidence. Everyone can collaborate to find costumes and props!
3. Write a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story! This is an excellent way to practise developing interesting plots, and it’s lots of fun! Before you start, it’s a good idea to visit the library and take out a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book or two so your child can see some examples of the format. Once the story is planned, written, and edited, make it into a book and add pictures!
4. Pretend you’re a spy! Give children notebooks labeled “Top Secret”, and encourage them to record everything interesting they see, hear, smell, taste, or touch. Looking for a little inspiration? Read Louise Fitzhugh’s classic novel Harriet the Spy together to see how it’s done! The story follows Harriet, an inquisitive eleven year old and aspiring writer whose spy notebook falls into the wrong hands.
5. Make a story prompt treasure box! Ask your kids to cut inspiring pictures out of old newspapers or magazines and put them into a decorated bag or box. Whenever they need inspiration for their writing, they can simply pull out a picture to help them get started.
Remind your children that all good writers are good editors, but avoid spending too much time correcting work they have written for the joy of it. The goal of writing is to express the ideas we have inside us. As long as your children feel they have done that, their writing has been a success.