Some of my favorite authors are kids! I love to read the stories and ideas young writers share, so I’m especially honored when I can empower kids to write and celebrate their creations with them.
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It is amazing what can emerge when kids take a quiet moment to draw or write about their inner world. Each week, I invite my four- and five-year-old students to experience the joy of writing in our writing center. It never fails: as I read their writing, either I burst out laughing because they are so clever or my eyes fill with tears because their writing reveals such truth and beauty. And when my own children (ages six and eight) share with me what they have written, I treasure it, and I usually learn something new about them. (Or perhaps I learn way too many facts about Pokémon or salamanders. What can I say? My son is passionate!)
Benefits of writing for kids
Not only is their writing good for me, it’s good for them too, and the benefits go way beyond academic skills. Here are a couple ways writing can empower kids to grow and thrive.
- Get it out! There is a world of ideas, questions, and curiosities inside each young mind. When we provide an outlet for kids’ thoughts and then explore those thoughts together, it can be incredibly validating and uplifting for them.
- Sort it out! Writing can help kids process big feelings and complex situations. The act of writing gives them time and space to think through emotions that may be bubbling up or even those they have tamped down. Then it allows them to express on paper what might be too hard or jumbled to construct verbally.
- Work it out! I said it’s not all about academics, but writing practice–no matter the topic–helps them improve their skills and fluency. Slowly but surely, this makes writing easier for them, allowing them to experience its benefits even more.
Empower kids as writers no matter their age
Writing from our kids looks different depending on age. Our littlest littles are participating in emergent literacy where their pictures and sometimes each word’s initial and ending sounds tell their story. Our older kids are participating in more conventional writing: connecting common ideas for a specific purpose and finding their unique voice.
No matter the stage they are in, we can empower our kids through writing. The simplest way to do that is to be their audience and read their creations with interest. My six-year-old daughter has been working very hard on writing a comic book. It is her spin-off of Captain Underpants. Tonight, I gave her my full attention, and she beamed as she read to me her favorite parts. There is something special about sharing a story together.
Another way to empower them is to provide time and space for them to write. We are all home with our kids right now and might be wondering, how do we encourage them to write? We don’t want to turn this helpful outlet into a battle, but what do we do?
Use Reading to Launch Writing
I have found that one of the best ways to encourage writing is first to share reading. Reading great books can open kids up in a special way, and writing in response to stories can help their ideas to flow more easily.
Here’s a wonderful book to try during this season. The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld tells the story of Taylor who is frustrated when his project is ruined. His animal friends try to comfort Taylor each in their own way. However none of these are quite what Taylor needs–until the rabbit shows up and simply listens.
This story hits home because I am frustrated with everything going on right now, and I know my kids are too. Hopefully as we share this story together, we can write out our feelings and ideas, and then talk to each other about the different ways we need comfort when we are upset.
Get a great start with Writing Prompts
This week, I hope you get to share a wonderful book with your kids. Afterward, you can ask them to write about how the story relates to their experiences and give them a writing prompt to help get their ideas started.
If you want to use a book like The Rabbit Listened, try these prompts.
- For younger kids: When I get upset, it helps me to… (Have them draw pictures. Then they can do their best with writing the words, or they can narrate their words for you to write.)
- For older kids: Write about a time you were frustrated this week. What are some ways that helped or would have helped you to feel better?
Help kids access the power of writing with the printable prompts shown above. When you sign up, you’ll also get the latest posts and future freebies, right in your inbox.
When they are finished, thank them for sharing their thoughts and ideas with you. As you read, write, and talk together, you are giving each other an amazing gift in the moment and practicing skills that can serve you well lifelong.
Reading and Writing Resources
Here are two amazing sites that tie in perfectly with using reading to empower kids as writers.
- Read, Wonder, and Learn! is a web page compiled by children’s book author Kate Messner and is full of excellent resources and read-alouds for grades PreK-12. In many of the read-alouds, the author gives a writing prompt that goes along with the story. Some videos are writing mini-lessons by published authors. They cover topics like how to create a character based on your unique traits and how to add more sensory details in your writing, just to name a few.
- Kids Ask Authors is a new podcast by author/illustrator Grace Lin. Grace poses questions from kids to authors and illustrators who give the inside scoop on reading, writing, and even the publishing process. The episodes are short and fun. Listen to the end for book reviews, jokes, and poems from kids.
Another writing tool that can help kids grow emotionally and spiritually is a gratitude journal. Research shows that happiness doesn’t necessarily make you more grateful, but practicing gratitude can make you more happy.
We created this flexible, printable (free) gratitude journal to help your family on that journey. Each page has a place to circle how you feel, a few spots to write (or draw) what you’re thankful for, and a Bible verse. Plus, it contains ideas for using the journal and 11 gratitude prompts (in case you get stuck).
Leave a Comment BELOW
I’d love to know what your family is reading and writing these days. What tips can you offer to fellow caregivers about how to empower kids through writing?