On Raising a Writer

Photo by David Pennington on Unsplash

If you love to write, it’s natural that you want (and maybe expect) your kids to love writing. Totally misguided, but natural. I think I’ve raised all three of my boys the same way when it comes to reading and writing, but there have been drastically different results. Because they are their own persons with their own interests and gifts. The nerve, right? Anyway, I still stand by some of the techniques below because they’ve helped each of the boys, albeit in different ways. So, if you’re looking for some help with your reluctant writer or you want to encourage your budding Stephen King, check these out…

  1. Read.

Yes, the same advice that was given to you when you first expressed an interest in becoming a writer. Read. Everything. For kids, that translates into reading aloud often and exploring different genres with them. One of my kiddos didn’t read independently until age seven. As we encouraged him to learn his stinking sight words, we continued reading aloud every night. We took books on CD in the car and made sure he had a little CD player so he could listen to them on his own, too. By fostering the love of story, you can expose them to the parts of a story, dialogue, and characters. All things that are good foundation for when they are writing themselves.

We recently started picking up PlayAways at our library and they love them! Check to see if your library carries them!

2. Take Dictation

I let all three kids dictate stories to me when they were too young to write. You can fold some paper in half and – to everyone’s delight – get out the stapler. The most exotic of all office supplies. Or you can buy some of these. Whatever works. As they told me their story, I would stop them now and then to ask a question with great interest. What happened next?  Was anyone with the mechanical robot bunny? How did that make the monster feel? It becomes a bit of a conversation. You’re getting more details and helping to build their story. In our case, it helped if I didn’t censor much. They felt free to be as imaginative as they wanted.  So, there were lots of farting, mechanical robot bunny defeating the three-headed monster stories.

3. Writing Stuff

Keep a variety of writing materials within their reach. You can set up a little station with bookmaking materials or just have a bucket of supplies that can move around the house. Things you might include: pens, pencils, markers, stickers, crayons, hole punch, yarn, ruler, colorful tape. I hide the stapler at my house, but that’s because one of them stapled his fingernail out of curiosity. And I like to think of the dog’s safety as well.

The boys did sticker stories in kindergarten and first grade. You take some stickers – they don’t have to be from the same sheet – plop them down on the paper and then write a story about them. Here’s one of my faves. I’ll spare you the one with Spider-man crushing My Little Pony.

You can also get some mini notebooks in multipacks. The bus driver handed them out as an end-of-the-year gifts and my kids chose to use them as diaries.

How sweet. (Insert eye roll.)

4. Buy into the Graphic Novel and Comic Book Craze

Word balloons, lots of action, and plenty of humor. You can get templates and books online for making your own graphic novels or comics. My boys love drawing comics and, don’t tell them, they are building stories!

Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

5. Write Them Notes

Every now and then I write them a note on a cute notecard – perhaps with a hedgehog – and leave it for them to find in the morning. Even before they could read, they loved getting them. It shows them that writing is an important way to express yourself. And that mom maybe wasn’t all that mad about the green slime that dried in the carpeting behind the couch.

Photo by Liudmyla Denysiuk on Unsplash

My kiddos don’t all love writing, but they all have an understanding of its purpose and love reading other people’s writing. Which is a win! If you have any tips or tricks that helped encourage little writers in your house, feel free to leave them below.

Happy Writing to All!

-Julie

I LOVE all these ideas! I can’t believe I haven’t been doing all of this with my kiddo already! And I can’t wait to start!

-Thea

2 Replies to “On Raising a Writer”

  1. Great piece!!!! I love to believe that my boys will be passionate about writing one day!! My middle son occasionally writes his own stories and I always get excited!! Usually I am way more excited than he is!! Sometimes I think I impose my love of reading and writing on the boys instead of sharing it with them. It is because I want them to find the joy in both, as I have. All parents know all too well that we only have a certain amount of control over this! These were great suggestions. Thanks for this piece!

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