For the last little while now Jack has been fiercely interested in writing books. It all started when we ran out of sketchbooks – I usually have a small supply on hand but his drawing has become so prolific lately that I quickly ran out – in a pinch I offered to make him a small drawing book out of copy paper.
A blank book. Full of possibilities. I could never have imagined how much those little empty pages would inspire Jack. He quickly filled the first book, then asked for another, and another. In one week he wrote 14 books!
And his stories flow so beautifully. They have characters, the characters go on adventures, they experience hardship in some way, overcome the hardship and everything comes good by the time the story ends.
I haven’t explicitly taught Jack the structure of a story; he has learnt this from listening to stories on our laps. I am always so humbled by a small child’s capacity to learn naturally.
I should mention that Jack’s books are mostly drawings. As his confidence with creating stories has increased he has included more words; small sentences, speech bubbles and some invented spellings and words, but mostly the stories are told through the illustrations.
I have scribed a few for him but I started to notice that he didn’t feel as connected to those stories; the ones I had helped with. And as much as I desperately wanted to savour those sweet stories, I needed to respect that they were Jack’s stories and that the words would come when he felt compelled to include them.
If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll know that for the past month or so we have been living with Batman. Jack borrowed a Batman costume from a friend and wore it from sun-up to sun-down everyday until we gave it back last week. Stories of superheroes have filled his books.
I made Jack a few of these simple blank comic books to encourage this passion. Flashes of ‘POP!’ and ‘BOOOOOM!’ and ‘ZOOM!’ filled the pages. Jack created new villains for Batman to battle and created new alliances between superheroes as they fought to save the galaxy.
I am so very grateful to be able to allow Jack to learn at this pace. At the beginning of the year I had a learning schedule for us which included focussed time to work on reading and writing. I’ve changed that now. We still have time for project work, maths, art and science but no focussed language. Instead Jack’s language is developing at his pace through his drawings and his books.
I see in him a joy; pure joy which comes from drawing. And now that joy is being transferred over to writing as well. I want so much to protect this and so I am being so careful to nurture without pushing.
I provide the materials he needs; the books, sharpened pencils, word cards and rubber stamps. I listen to his stories when he reads them to me and try not to squeal with delight too much every time Jack adds a speech bubble here and a sentence there, instead admiring them quietly as he so proudly adds his latest book to the reading pile.