Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Best Way to Encourage Children to Write

I've been working on a series of answers to interview questions posed to me for the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers workshop for which I'm serving on the faculty this June. One of the questions is: What do you feel are some of the best strategies for inspiring children to write? I've been pondering that one, when today I stumbled on the most wonderful answer in the world.

I was down at Cafe Solle near my house this morning, meeting one of my SCBWI mentees for a critique session on her manuscript, when who should come into the cafe but many many children - at least two dozen of them. They were dressed in tye-dyed shirts and wearing hippie beads, some with bandannas tied around their heads; they were all carrying notebooks and pencils. After they ordered their beverages and cleaned the cafe completely out of every pastry in its display case, they scattered themselves around at the little tables and began - writing poetry.

I inquired: this is one Mesa Elementary School third grade teacher's annual poetry-writing class trip. The children are encouraged to dress in "beatnik" garb and then to come sit in a cafe to write. All around me these third grade poets were sipping their hot chocolate, nibbling on their croissants, and writing poems: the Parisian Latin Quarter crossed with 1968 San Francisco.

If there is any better way to make children want to write, I don't know what it is. I may go back there now with my novel and get myself one of those croissants, except that they're all sold out. I'm inspired just from watching this morning's glorious celebration of writing. I hope you're inspired just by reading about it.


  1. Best idea ever! So brilliant: dressing up, escaping from school, food, writing. What a wonderful teacher! (Are you going to use that, Claudia?) XOSally

  2. I very well might, Sally! So first dibs on it for me!