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Kids Love Stories, So Why Not Encourage Them to Publish?

My four-year-old is already a demanding editor.

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-chief

digital self publishingIn today’s feature story Dave Weich considers the upside of encouraging children to self-publish their own works. Yes, some adults feel that it’s a bad idea? Why? Well, because writing is hard. I also suspect that it’s a question of “nutritional content.” After all, if you left your ten-year-old in charge of family dinners, you’d be eating pizza and burgers every night.

But the fact of the matter is, if you teach someone how to do things, they might just surprise you. Empowerment does a great many things for people. Take the aforementioned meals. If your child learns from an early age how to prepare a few simple meals, they’re more likely to begin expanding their range quite quickly (you can only make so many pizzas and burgers before you get bored). Not only that, the better informed they are about food, nutrition and cooking early on, the more likely they are to develop healthier eating habits later in life.

Is it really any different with reading and writing? Nope.

Each night my young daughter wants my wife and I to tell her a story before she goes to sleep (this, after we read her four books — since, as she points out, she’s four years old). As time has passed, she’s grown a little bored by our original stories and she tells us what she wants in the stories, down to the characters (her pets, friends and teachers), settings (Russia, for some unknown reason, is a current favorite locale), and even plot. She’s only four and already she’s a demanding editor.

Were I at some point in the future to help create a fully-fledged story with her, would it be so wrong if I were to help her “publish” it? Not at all, I think. It would bring delight to her, me, and our family, she’d learn something about what her Daddy does for a living and, who knows, she might even turn out to be a writer or a publisher in the future.

(Truth is, I’m holding out for astronaut. And I’m decidedly not letter her shoot herself into space…yet.)

Let us know what you think in the comments.

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6 Comments

  1. Posted April 9, 2012 at 3:04 am | Permalink

    I have done this twice with my eight-year-old. Once he researched his own version of a “Magic School Bus” book in the desert (with trips to the desert), and we just published it through a photo-product website. The second time, after he took a cartooning class, he did a comic, and we published it through Lulu.

    I have no idea whether they encourage reading (I think my son would’ve been a book-devourer in any case) or writing or a fuller understanding of the book world.

    But they were fun.

  2. Posted April 9, 2012 at 4:09 am | Permalink

    I’m wholeheartedly in favour. My son (George, age three) wants to be a writer/editor like Mummy when he grows up (and a train driver, a police car driver and a chef who only cooks macaroni cheese). He ‘writes’ his own stories on the computer; and dictates them to me to write in ‘proper’ words. His imagination is fabulous – and actually, as an editor, I’m sometimes astonished by his ability: he makes a creative link that an adult would struggle with. He’s unencumbered by rules at this age, and the stories never fail to make a reader smile. I’m going to be working on a project with the children in his nursery soon to put together a children’s book – because I think why not empower children early on and show them that they can create something themselves? Seems like a wonderful way to engage kids with writing and books to me.

  3. Posted April 9, 2012 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    How could letting our children see themselves published be a bad idea? Children are always very proud of what they do. It can only be a good thing for them to see their name up in lights!
    I run creative writing clubs for children and am always inspired by their enthusiasm and eagerness for seeing their amazing literature in print. Children are the imaginative cream of society. They NEVER suffer from writers block. If you can’t be a show off when you’re young then when can you be? Writing is only hard when you’re over eighteen. When you stop being sure that you’re a genius.

    Go for it, Edward!

  4. Posted April 9, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Well said! Fine article. Just to validate the points you’ve raised, here’s an example of what’s possible when you give kids a chance to free up the writer inside them. http://www.anansesem.com/

  5. Posted April 9, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    I posted this in the comments section of Dave’s article, but it’s possibly just as relevant here.

    Kids writing for kids reading.

    Six genre anthologies of stories published this year by the Born Storytellers, 74 authors all aged between 10 and 17. The Born Storytellers is an annual program that is designed to bring up young authors.

    We hold an annual book launch event at (Australia’s) Perth Writers Festival each February/March, the latest series is the first to be streamed into genre collections: Romance, Adventure, Crime&Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Teen Fiction.

    Our programs are run in schools over a full semester, and every participant is invited to be part of our publishing program. We also invite those who have been through the program before to submit work, encouraging them to continue their writing journey. We have many outstanding storytellers among them. Our young authors have presented their work at literary festivals and events.

    The books are currently being distributed locally. They are printed by Lightning Source and our distribution is about to be rolled out through Ingram to the rest of Australia US and Europe. The books are currently available from our shop website.

    Shop >>http://logorythm.com/category.php?id_category=5

    Born Storytellers >> http://bornstorytellers.net/

    Facebook page >> https://www.facebook.com/bornstorytellers

  6. Posted April 10, 2012 at 2:45 am | Permalink

    I treasure my copy of Daisy Ashford’s ‘The Young Visiters’ (sic) -from another era but a classic young person’s story. Encourage and help them to publish! It has been accepted in our family that the children begin to make ‘books’ as soon as they can print. Some of the stories are ‘derivative’ (as are many ‘adult’ novels!) but flashes of their own fresh voices come through and gladden my heart. Writing, reading, appreciation of language and literature, like an appreciation of music cannot start too early.

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