“Writing is an extreme privilege, but it’s also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself, and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone.” ~Amy Tan
“If you really want to know yourself, start by writing a book.” ~Shereen El Feki
“If a nation loses its storytellers, it loses its childhood.”
Kids are Authors is a wonderful writing contest for K-eighth grade students, sponsored by Scholastic, Inc. You know Scholastic, don’t you? The book fairs. The order sheets stuffed in book bags. Scholastic is a major staple of the American educational system. The Kids are Authors contest is designed to encourage students to work in teams (an important value) to write (my favorite activity) and to illustrate (my brother’s favorite activity) their books…not just a story…but an eventual published book.
What a thrill for kids to see their works in published form. It’s motivating. It’s encouraging. It lays the groundwork for the writers of the future. Unfortunately, after this year, the Kids are Authors contest is coming to a close. Like a good book, it has reached the end. (Say whaaaatt?) Yes, it has come to an end. For almost a decade, kids from all over sat down, fired up their imaginations, and wrote, re-wrote, and wrote some more.
So what does this contest mean to the kids? Here’s story (don’t pardon the pun). A small group of students from the Rose Hill Boys & Girls Club (New Castle, DE) entered the contest and wrote/illustrated the book, The Story of Velma. Their book was based on the real-life Dr. Velma Scantlebury, the associate director of the Kidney Transplant Program at Christiana Care and the first African American female kidney transplant surgeon. Out of 1,000 entries, the Rose Hill kids were the only ones recognized in the state of Delaware.
Okay…kids wrote a book. Big deal! IT IS A BIG DEAL! We hear hundreds of stories of children without direction, without discipline. Kids spending hours in front of the TV or gaming systems. Kids not having any sense of who’s making positive impacts in their community. These young authors made a commitment to a project, identified someone of note, did the research, cooperated and collaborated…and most of all…had a finished product that they, their families, and community could be proud of.
If you are a writer or artist, you know how important opportunities like this are to the kids. All of us who spend hours working on our craft remember how it was when we first started out. You know the feeling when there is encouragement after crafting the first poem, story, or painting.
Let’s get together and encourage Scholastic, Inc. to keep that feeling going in our your authors. You can help the next generation of writers by sharing this with friends, posting it with the hashtag #WriteOnScholastic or by dropping and encouraging note to Scholastic. Maybe Scholastic cannot sustain the program, but it is important to let them know the program has significant value to the writing community.
Guy A. Sims is the author of the novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novellas, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim. He is also the head writer of the Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline comic book series and the Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation.