Young writers are like seeds, filled with the potential of the mature writer, but small and compact. When we work with young writers, we provide nutrients, light and an optimum place to grow. Reading stories of all kinds, poetry, non-fiction, picture books, chapter books and books in a series begins to loosen up our little seeds and infuse them with the most important nutrient for a young writer, ideas.
Writers need light, just as growing plants do, and the light in this case, is an encouraging environment that inspires young writers to crave creating their own stories. A classroom filled with writing materials, paper of many sizes and colors, envelopes, hole-punches, scissors, stickers, markers, crayons and paints to illustrate their stories, word walls and word books to lend support for spelling words and journals to write in will help to entice young writers to begin writing. Housing these materials in an attractive writing center, or in a portable writing center that can be put on a table during language time or learning center time has, in my experience, made the writing center a first choice activity.
Once the writing bug has bitten, a teacher can encourage writers by focusing on different themes, such as fairy tales, adventure stories, non-fiction stories, science investigations, and stories about historical events and holidays. Beginning in kindergarten with simple stories with a beginning, middle and end, and expanding throughout the primary grades with the edition of embellishing adjectives and adverbs and dialogue, as stories become habit, children enjoy the process more and more.
My students love it when we come in from recess and settle in for our story time, and the stories I select are the stories they have written. Their faces beam as I announce, “Here is a wonderful story written by________!” The children listen to each story and are thrilled when I read their story and show their illustration. As they sprout, my little writers show signs of growing into strong, healthy writers. My job is to tend them.