Nothing is a bigger thrill for the young writers I mentor than what we have come to call their “publication parties.” For my regular sessions with the three of them, I plan a mix of writing warm-ups and short and long-term writing projects. When the long-term projects are finally finished—often after months of drafting and revising—we invite their parents to a formal reading. During our tougher sessions, when the kids are bored with revising, looking ahead to this party is a great incentive to keep them pushing through this tough stage of writing. Instead of giving up and saying their work is “good enough,” they keep polishing because they know that the publication party is always so much fun. And it’s not just because we have pizza or cupcakes: they beam with pride as their families listen to and celebrate the writing they’ve worked so hard on.
Anyone with kids has likely attended a piano recital or the school play or a sporting event. But as the sister to two hockey-playing brothers (back in a time when there weren’t girls’ teams), I can tell you that there are far fewer formal chances for young writers to read their work out loud to an audience—to have their achievement celebrated in a public forum. If you have young writers at home, why not plan ahead for a publication party of your own? Invite Grandma or the neighbors, and make it a true event!
Or if you have a classroom, I’ve put together a Pinterest board with many suggestions for creating a writing unit. It plays on the “cooking up a story” theme that I use throughout my book You Can Write a Story: A Story-Writing Recipe for Kids, and my Pinterest board includes ideas for an official publication party. But you can also use the board to inspire you in brainstorming ideas for totally different writing themes that you might use in your classroom or home.
Sticking with the process of revising their work until it’s truly polished is a daunting prospect for most young writers. It’s not so different than musical kids playing scales over and over, or athletic kids doing endless drills for their sport. Why not make the process of “rinse, repeat” more tolerable for young writers by providing a spectacular publication party “finish line” they can race towards?