November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). What began as a challenge for a small group of writers has grown into a non-profit organization supporting the challenge in which “hundreds of thousands of people around the world begin to write, determined to end the month with 50,000 words of a brand new novel.” And while I’m not sure about what comes out of the process (hopefully many more months of revisions), I love the idea of a community of support.
But what really gets my attention is their Young Writers Program, created specifically for the under 18 crowd and the educators cheering them on.
Not interested in a structured challenge, but still want to encourage the budding authors in your world? 2019 has provided a slew of books on authors and their craft for every age group.
Before They Were Authors: Famous Writers as Kids
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019
This collection of ten mini-biographies features authors from Maya Angelou to Gene Luen Yang. Each chapter explores the life events, struggles, and inspirations of a popular figure in children’s literature. A striking array of experiences to show aspiring writers that the path to success is not usually a smooth one, in fact, there’s not just one path at all.
The Story Pirates Present: Digging Up Danger
Jacqueline West and illustrated by Hatem Aly
Based on the story idea of Phoebe Wolinetz
Random House, 2019
What do you get when you cross a ghost-hunting-thirteen-year-old, bent on figuring out what’s haunting the plant shop where she’s spending the summer, with a step-by-step guide to creating your own mystery novel? A Story Pirates adventure, of course. Story Pirates is a multi-media company/creativity lab (radio, podcast, live show, book series) focused on bringing kid’s story ideas to life.
Dear Ally, How Do You Write a Book?
Scholastic Press, 2019
Ages 12 and up
An in-depth Q&A, full of practical advice, for anyone even thinking about writing a book. With contributions from some of the biggest names in YA lit, Carter and friends cover everything from finding (and keeping) inspiration, planning and research, battling writer’s block, to getting published. A great, desk-top, “phone a friend” reference.
Looking for some backlist inspiration? Check out any one of these titles for the youngest through young adult authors.
Author: A True Story by Helen Lester (HMH, 2002) Ages 4-7
The Word Collector by Peter H Reynolds (Scholastic, 2018) Ages 4-8
My Weird Writing Tips by Dan Gutman (HarperCollins 2013) Ages 8-12
Spilling Ink: A Young Writers Handbook by Ellen Potter and Anne Mazer, illustrated by Matt Phelan (Macmillan, 2010) Ages 9-14
How to Write Fiction (And Think About It) by Robert Graham (Macmillan, 2007) Ages 15 and up–academic