I’ve always believed that kids were natural born storytellers.
When I was 19, and a counselor at a summer day camp, with a fierce crush on someone that infused all my days, I taught a writing unit to kids who spent the rest of their day tearing around fields and diving in the lake.
And these little moppets and gremlins would shuck off their damp towels, push the brims back on their caps, and hunker down over notebooks.
They’d come up with lines like, In the blackberry brambles, hid a puffy rabbit.
Not a ‘fluffy’ rabbit. That’d be a cliche. A puffy one.
And, My feet were as sticky as day old lollies.
Or, There is nowhere that’s really over the rainbow.
(This from a child we later found out had it kind of rough).
They effortlessly wrote lines that a grown up writer might toil over, slavishly polishing and re-polishing to get the sheen that comes so naturally to children.
I’ve taught writing to emotionally disturbed kids, to ones in the juvenile justice system, and used writing in therapy sessions with child patients, and the result is always the same.
Now I see it with my own children.
My daughter seems like she might have a gift for writing, one that, if I can (please, somebody) do what I should, might fuel all her days. She feels an internal pressure when she’s not making up stories that is the hallmark, or so I’ve read, of something special.
My son is more a scientist, observer (and questioner) of the world. But like his sister, he’s been read to and dragged around to bookstores and heard me muttering lines out loud as I revise. And so even though he’s probably not destined for life as a writer, just today in his game, I caught this gem: The car slammed into a wall as hard as a cloud.
As hard as a cloud?
See? Not going to be a writer probably. But the point is he was thinking in similes, as all children do.
If we can kindle that flame, some of these children will become writers.
Today on our ventures, I found a gem of a used bookstore, called Jupiters. And I met the proprietor, Watt Childress, who went to the trouble of leafing through three old volumes to help my son decide whether he wanted a book on air craft, trains, or sports cars.
Watt also is a keen political writer–with a new/old online paper coming soon–and something of a scribe for the community.
And he’s done something with this shop that is the essence of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day (whose word we are still spreading).
On his business card, his two daughters are listed as apprentices.
That’s what TYCBD is all about. Not introducing kids to a love of reading–better minds and organizational bodies than I have already addressed that.
But introducing them to a love of bookstores. Of being in a store filled with magic and knowing what to do with it.
Some of these kids may fulfill their potential as storytellers. Some may become booksellers. Some may just narrate their car games, well or not so well.
But they’ll all find that over the rainbow lies some place just for them.