Kids Write It—and We Learn From It.

Posted by Samantha on November 20, 2008

School Residencies

During the past weeks I have found myself, in everyday conversations, regularly quoting and retelling stories that our Trumbull students wrote. Just yesterday I was reminded of one of the sweetest stories I’ve read in a long time—a story about Larry the Ant by Yekeen. In this true story, Yekeen tells about the time he had a pet ant named Larry. He fed him lettuce and kept him in his room. Unfortunately, Larry was sick and didn’t live very long. But he lives on in Yekeen’s heart, forever and ever.

Kids have a way of saying so much with so little. It might be one of my favorite things about teaching with Barrel of Monkeys. Every time I leave a residency I realize how much I can learn from each 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th grader.

Perhaps one of the hardest things for a writer to retain is simple honesty, but that happens to be one of the greatest strengths of a 3rd grade author. It’s all about the story—be it a true story or straight out of their imagination. And kids write their stories the way they would tell them, the way they remember them or create them, and the way they experience them, be it in their mind of in real life. Simply and honestly.

We encourage students to let their imagination flow, to not censor themselves and allow their creativity to take hold, yet how many of us really give ourselves the same freedom when working on creative writing (or in other areas of our lives, for that matter)? I, for one, can hardly count the number of times I back up and fix words and use the thesaurus feature and…. well, get off track. But our kids usually don’t. Their stories may change direction and new characters are often introduced, but they keep going. And the result is often mind blowing.

As we leave Trumbull I feel very grateful for the many lessons our students have taught me, and once again I am reminded that simple and honest is usually best.

1 Comment

So true, Sam. I know that I, for one, have been much freer and more willing to run with crazy ideas in my writing after being exposed to the wonderfully structure-defying stories of the kids in our program.

Great post!

Tai November 26, 2008 at 03:52 PM

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