Trying to Inspire Young Authors

Photo from Camanche Public Library's Facebook Page
Photo from Camanche Public Library’s Facebook Page

Last Saturday, I traveled to the library in Camanche, Iowa, where I’d spent much of my growing-up years. The library used to be a house rumored to be an underground railroad stop; it sits on a hill overlooking the Mississippi River. Growing up, it resembled a house more than a library. It is now much more open and library-ish.

Photo from Camanche Public Library's Facebook Page
Photo from Camanche Public Library’s Facebook Page

I went to the library so frequently that the librarians knew me well. Back then, nothing was electronic, so when you checked out a book, the librarian physically found your card via your number and wrote down the books you checked out. The librarians didn’t even need to ask me my name they knew me so well.

I love going back to my old library; many of my biggest life decisions were either contemplated or made on the pier into the river behind the library. It’s also nice because, since Camanche is a smaller town, they are much more open to my local author visits.

Photo from Camanche Public Library's Facebook Page
Photo from Camanche Public Library’s Facebook Page

On Saturday, I led a workshop with kids as part of the summer reading program. Since I wasn’t sure of the participating kids’ age range, I decided to do an activity with character because littler kids could draw instead of write about their character.

It was an intimate but fun group. I started by asking them to invent a character, draw or write about it, and then think about it’s characteristics: age, looks, siblings, parents, favorite school subjects, fears, favorite foods, etc. We then started to use our character in a story. We talked about the current movies Jurassic World and Inside Out and about how the main character or characters wanted something. Then the story was about things that happened that kept the characters from getting what they wanted. The end showed the characters getting what they wanted in these cases, but it could end with the character not getting what he or she wants but being okay with that.

Photo from Camanche Public Library's Facebook Page
Photo from Camanche Public Library’s Facebook Page

I then folded in half a couple of pieces of paper supplied by the library and set them to writing their stories. They all did fantastic jobs. They had entertaining (if not a little scary and bloody) stories with well-built characters.

Personally, I had a blast. The hour flew by. Hopefully they learned something; if not, I think they at least had fun.

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