Get your kids and students excited about writing with a Creative Writing Kit and Brave the Page, a brand new writing guide for middle grade writers.
From the minute this book landed on our doorstep, it's been the source of so much enthusiasm and activity at our house and I'm so excited to share it with you! Brave the Page: A Young Writer's Guide to Telling Epic Stories by Rebecca Stern & Grant Faulkner is the book every young aspiring writer needs in their arsenal. It's a ridiculously, unbelievably good book!
I knew as soon as I opened the book and began flipping through it that Eila (11 years old) would love it. She loves to write and always has no less than three or four stories or books in the works.
But what really surprised me was how much Esme (13 years old) has enjoyed the book. She always claims she doesn't like to write, but I've found her and Eila at the table, pens in hand and a timer set nearby while they work on a story, more than once since Brave the Page was introduced.
This book is just so inspiring!
About Brave the Page
Have you heard of NANOWRIMO? It's short for National Novel Writing Month which was started by a non-profit organization back in 2005. Every November, participants set a goal to begin writing a 50,000-word novel on November 1st and finish by 11:59 PM on November 30th. Hundreds of thousands of people participate every year!
Grant Faulkner, one of the authors of this book, is the executive director of NANOWRIMO. He, along with Rebecca Stern, a teacher and author, wrote this book to offer more guidance and support to tweens and teens who want to write and participate in NANOWRIMO.
The book is described as "Partly a how-to guide on the nitty-gritty of writing; partly a collection of inspiration to set (and meet) ambitious goals." It's written for middle grade readers/writers, 5th grade and up, but I can see it being a great resource all the way through high-school.
The NANOWRIMO founders believe that everyone's stories deserve to be told, and with that in mind Faulkner and Sterns filled this book with everything a young writer needs to get started:
- Chapters on character, plot, setting, etc.
- Motivating pep talks from popular authors (I LOVED the introduction from Jason Reynolds!)
- Tips and Tricks to set goals and stick to them
- Ideas for creating a writing routine
- Questions to help you figure out how you work best
- Detailed plans for writing a novel or story in a month
The authors don't expect kids to write a 50,000-word novel in a month, nor do you have to officially participate in NANOWRIMO for this book to be useful and effective. The objective is to help young writers set goals and develop a plan to meet that goal.
However, with November just two months away, now would be a great time to introduce this book and the NANOWRIMO challenge to your kids or students and set some goals. Knowing that a few hundred thousand other people are setting writing goals in November is good motivation to jump in and start writing!
What We Like Most About the Book
After a couple weeks poring through Brave the Page, Eila finally brought it back to me (so I could write this review) and I laughed when I saw how many book darts and sticky notes she'd adorned the book with. She's obviously a BIG fan.
Here's what she (and Esme) liked most:
The "Dare Machine"
Throughout the book there are sections called "Dare Machine," which are specific calls to action. Things like going on a scavenger hunt in your favorite book to find all the main characters, when and where the story takes place, how the story begins, etc.
One of Esme's favorite Dares was to create pretend social media pages for the characters she was writing. This helped her define their name, age, what they look like, where they live, what they like, who they're related to, and what they'd post about if they were real. This was such a fun activity!
The Pep Talks
Both of my girls thought the pep talks from well-known middle grade and YA authors were really helpful.
Jennifer Niven talks about finding time to write and how it's something that is hard for every writer. John Green talks about quitting halfway through stories because he feels like they're not good enough. Scott Westerfeld shares his tips for revision and rewriting and how a story changes as you go along.
My girls thought it was really encouraging to hear struggles from published writers and how they overcame them.
The book is written with such a fun voice. The text is broken up with plenty of bullet points and chapter headings so the "reading" part of it never feels too overwhelming. And there are fun quotes and excerpts throughout the book that keep it light - not at all like a textbook.
The Writing Plan
Part Three of the book lays out a month long writing plan. It has goals for every week, and milestones to meet along the way, to help you reach a 30 day writing goal.
This is the section where you take everything you've learned and put it into action. This is also the section that has had my daughters sitting at the table with their writing timer on with no coercion from me! It's been incredible to watch.
Get Started with a Creative Writing Kit
I'm going to keep riding the enthusiasm wave that Brave the Page inspired at my house! To keep it going we decided to put together a middle grade creative writing group to participate in NANWRIMO this year.
The writing group won't start until next month (I'll tell you all about it soon), but to prepare, we're putting together some fun Creative Writing Kits for everyone in the group.
Having a special set of "tools" makes an endeavor like this more appealing from the start. You can ask a kid to sit down and write a few paragraphs, and they may or may not oblige. But, if you hand them a Creative Writing Kit filled with fun tools and inspiration, it's more likely that they'll be inspired enough to get started on their own.
What to include in your Creative Writing Kit for Kids and Teens
Here's what we're putting in our creative writing kits:
This is the book that's not only going to inspire them to want to write, but it's also going to tell them everything they need to know to actually do it. The book comes out on August 27, 2019 - but go ahead and pre-order it now!
Nothing too fancy, because these are pages that can be filled with mistakes and bad ideas (because those often happen before you get to the good stuff). You can rip out the pages, cross out whole paragraphs, and start over ten times in this notebook. (Even if you decide you'd rather type your story/book, you still will probably want to jot down notes, ideas, and outlines)
Whatever tools you like best for getting your ideas down on the page. Highlighters and colored pencils/markers can be helpful too in the editing and revision stages. Or just for doodling, because sometimes that's helpful too.
For organizing your thoughts, marking passages in your favorite books, etc.
Because this whole writing endeavor is going to be fun!
All aspiring writers need them. And yes, you may have one on your phone, but if you turn on your phone for that it may lead to checking email, then instagram, and a few rounds of emoji blitz . . . and then you've lost momentum. Sometimes a book is just the thing.
For when you need to get those ideas rolling.
A Bag to Put it All In
Presentation matters. If you call it a creative writing kit, but hand it to them in a plastic Walmart bag, it will definitely feel less special. We sewed this simple bag up in no time and it makes the whole endeavor feel more fun!
And now, you can get started! Have fun with this! If you're looking for more writing prompts, check out this post too.
We received an advanced reader's copy of Brave the Page from the publisher for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.