"When I grow up I want to be a professional wrestler. My name would be the Hurracain. I would be a legend."
So writes Jacy in an essay I found recently on Kid Writers, a blogspot where fourth graders from Oregon are testing their chops. As a class, about half of these young writers were born in countries other than the United States. This year they're working hard to become better writers.
It's a privilege to spend a little time each morning encouraging these kids, choosing and commenting on a handful of essays before I get started on my own writing. I've never been a grade-school teacher, nor did I have my own kids to help with their essays; so I feel I owe it somewhere, my writer's heart, giving back for all the encouragement I received as a young writer.
I remember the essay I wrote in third grade declaring, "I want to be a writer of books." Someone must have listened to me and made me believe I could do it. From third grade through high school graduation, I won creative writing awards at the end of every school year. I still have all the certificates, the plastic trophies, and the first story, "Jim Discovers Wind," written in pencil on newsprint with green lines. And now, here I am, a "writer of books."
The kids today are writing online, a "space-age" concept back in the sixties. But they still need mentors who listen and pay attention to what they're saying. If each of us could identify a single positive stroke that made a difference in our writing lives, I know we'd all want to give something back. It makes me sad to see that a lot of these kids are still waiting to recieve their first comments. Why not take a few minutes now to make a kid's day?
"After dinner, we wanted something sweet," writes Seraiah about her Grandma. "So I asked her could we bake a sweet potato pie? She said yes, so we made the crust and boiled the yams and mashed them and ate them."
I love the way you showed the steps in making the pie with your Grandma, Seraiah. I can almost taste it! Good job. Keep it up. Your writer friend, Susan.
That's how easy it is.