Yesterday I had the great pleasure of running a fiction writing workshop for local fourth and fifth graders. Several students I knew from earlier workshops. Most were new to me. In the beginning they were awfully quiet -- mostly, I believe, because they were from different schools across our city and didn't know each other. They listened attentively as I talked. They scribbled on their worksheets when I offered writing prompts. And then I set them loose, asking them to write scenes with the characters they'd created. I like to experiment with my prompts. And yesterday I introduced a whole new sequence. Would it be too confusing? Would they be able to follow? What would they come up with?
Twelve kids, twelve different stories. But all pretty amazing. Each of them created a strong narrator, thrust into a compelling conflict. We had middle school bullies, dead mothers, talking animals, a world-engulving crisis, frustrated dancers, sick children. It was so exciting to read their stories out loud. They were excited to hear their voices. And as I left the library yesterday I felt really encouraged. If they could all write like that, after only an hour and a half together, what else could they come up with?