A colleague of mine is working on her first novel. Like many new writers, she struggles to balance raising two small children (a son 4 and a daughter 8), with managing a career and pursuing her creative passion. She related an interesting episode with her kids. They had taken a great interest in her novel and offered suggestions for characters and scenes. She had heard about self publishing sites like Lulu and made her kids an offer. If they would write a short story and illustrate it, she would publish it as real book for them. They were excited and responded with insprired creativity.
Her story got me thinking. With ubitquitous publishing, perhaps one day the most popular children’s stories will be written by children. I decided to do a little snooping around and found, of course, that there are companies already exploring this. One example is WeWrite Company. The company was founded in 1993, by Delores Palmer. She was loooking for ways to encourage family and community participation in children’s reading. Today WeWrite conducts the creation of stories by groups of children of various ages. The approach they use is to conduct a workshop where children are given a story theme, by a professional facilitator and aided by an illustrator. First, a faciliator introduces the children to the theme of a story through a tour or short presentation. Then the children are given creative license to author their story, while an illustrator sketches their ideas. The end result is a published book or comic book (see example in the accompanying photo).
An example of a program of writing by older kids for younger kids was published in the Honolulu Star Bulletin (“Reading books is good for kids. Writing books has fringe benefits, too” by By Nancy Arcayna.)
Concern about the decline of literacy in America is high. With publishing becoming an open, easier process, I wonder if writing books could actually inspire students to read more. Imagine the potential literary sonic boom that could occur a few years down the road if today’s children started learning to write and publish books in elementary school!
This is truly one of the most important benefits we could hope to derive from open publishing.