This is a total non sequitur (yes, that is the correct spelling of that word, I looked it up!) but you’re my best source of information, so I figured I’d come to you first, my trusted readers. I’ve been super engaged in all things school-related lately (more on that later in the week), and have been thinking about the Young Authors’ Conferences we used to have when I was in elementary school. We’d spend weeks and weeks creating our own stories, going through all the steps of the writing process and then eventually “publishing” them, which is those days meant typing it all up on a typewriter and stapling the pages together.
My kids have two of my laminated books, part of a series about Fred the Flying Monkey, which I painstakingly typed out a typewriter that had no letter K. I instead had to punch an L every time I wanted a K andthen go back with a black pen and add the legs. Something tells me we wouldn’t have that problem nowadays!
Once the books were complete, the district hosted a big event at one of the elementary schools to which all “young authors” were invited. We’d share excerpts from our books and browse other student books and then have an opportunity to hear from a professional children’s author and usually an illustrator as well.
I’d love to bring that program back to the Heights. I think so much of the writing curriculum, in our district and nationwide, has been watered down to fit what’s required on standardized tests. I would love to see children putting effort into a long-term project that relied on their creativity, with each child coming up with a book that is so uniquely their own. And for them to then have the opportunity to celebrate it and share it with such a wide audience.
So, anyway, the reason I’ve come to you is that I always assumed the Young Authors’ Conference was part of a single national program but after doing some quick research, it seems it’s just a term used by schools and districts across the country to describe their own similar projects. Who remembers the way we did it in CH-UH in the 80s (Judi, I know you’re reading this)? Did anyone else do something similar in their schools or do anyone’s kids do it now? All thoughts welcome.
And maybe when I’m done with this, I’ll dust off an old typewriter and type up my book and then staple the pages together and let you all have at it.