Writing Books: Encouraging Emergent Writers

Writing their own Stories - An Everyday Story

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.

Writing their own Stories - An Everyday Story Writing their own Stories - An Everyday Story

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.

Learning to Write - An Everyday Story Learning to Write - An Everyday Story Learning to Write - An Everyday Story

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.

Learning to Write - An Everyday Story Learning to Write - An Everyday Story Writing Comic Books  - An Everyday Story

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.

16 comments on “Writing Books: Encouraging Emergent Writers”

  1. Kaly

    This is truly amazing, Kate. What a joy and blessing to have this creative energy in your home. This makes my heart sing, so I can imagine how your heart must just be exploding!

    • Kate

      Thanks Kaly 🙂 I do love these little books and you are right, Jack does bring such a creative energy to our family. I have never been able to draw or create much. I am not sure whether I wasn’t encouraged too much when I was a child. I know that creating is part of Jack’s soul; part of who he is and how he expresses himself so we are always to conscious to give him as much time and space as he needs to create.

  2. Robbie

    What an inspiring story and wonderful example of extending a child’s interest. Thank you. That drawing and writing table looks so inviting – I think an adult who feels their creativity has ‘expired’ would be enticed to draw here too!!

    • Kate

      Thank you Robbie. This is our dining table. It is nice to see it covered in art materials and paper. I love watching Jack’s creative process unfold. It really is a privilege.

    • Kate

      Do you mean for two-year-olds Michelle? I think for that age I wouldn’t be too concerned with creative writing. At that age, I would be allowing for lots of sensory exploration, construction, and open-ended art.

  3. Brienne Moody

    This is so cool! My son and I stumbled on this idea out of sheer boredom and limited resources last summer when we were camping. He can’t stop filling up the blank books either! He just started Kindergarten this week, which I have very mixed feelings about – but, we have been writing together in the morning before school. It’s helping me to stay in touch with him when I’m not able to see him for most of the day.

    • Kate

      Jack will come to me now and ask to write a book. I love it.

      I hope you are able to talk with someone over your concerns with kindergarten. Is it something you are able to discuss with his teacher? How is he adjusting to kindergarten?

    • Kate

      Thanks Deborah 🙂 You should see his pile of books! They are quite the collection. I love that the stories he is creating are starting to also show up in his pretend play, including the new characters he has created.

  4. Anik

    Great post! My son has just started writing his own little books and comics. Now I know how to encourage it 🙂 Thanks!

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