Celebrating and showcasing the wonderful talents and achievements of children is a strong passion of mine. I also stand by my word that kids will develop a positive attitude to writing if they are given meaningful opportunities to write. That is, writing that has a real purpose.
Publishing a child’s work can be incredibly empowering. It shows them that people are interested in their writing and care about what they have to say; Team that with an official book launch and a child’s confidence in themselves and their work can soar.
Pulling this off is much easier than you might think. Cammy started writing her story in April and it was just sitting on my computer. Just a few days before The Reading Hour, we decided that it would be an opportune time to share her story with family. In just a few days we printed the book and prepared for the book launch. The key is to keep the event simple but fulfilling.
Here’s a run-down of our event for you:
1. WRITING THE STORY
Proficient writers will be able to write on their own. Although a stimulus or prompt might help your child to develop a story line.
Pre and beginning writers, although not able to write legible words, are still capable of composing stories. They may just need a scribe to help them convey their thoughts. This is what I did for Cammy.
Parents can use a mentor text with pre and early writers, where children use the structure of the book as a guide for their own story. In our case, we used I’ve an Uncle Ivan. Cam wrote her story in April 2013. At the time, I’ve an Uncle Ivan was a favourite story for Cammy, especially after attending the book launch. But Cammy thought writing a story about family would be perfect for her baby brother to introduce him to his family members. I’ve an Uncle Ivan consists of a fairly simple format; each page introduces a family member in the form of a rhyming sentence.
Cam brainstormed rhyming words for each of her family members and used those to construct sentences. At the beginning, she needed help with the number of syllables in her sentences, but quickly picked up the pattern.
2. PUBLISHING THE STORY
There is nothing wrong with using a child’s own handwriting in a published piece of work, but as Cammy is a pre-writer I acted as her scribe and chose to type her story. I used Microsoft Publisher- as it allows you to easily create a booklet using a predesigned template.
3. ILLUSTRATING THE STORY
Each page featured a rhyming sentence about a family member. I included a photo of the family member and Cammy illustrated the page, giving more meaning to her text.
4. PRINTING THE STORY
We kept the book simple and had the books photocopied at Officeworks. We bound the book (covered the staples) with washi tape. For a more professional finish, you could have your books printed by Blurb.
5. INVITING GUESTS TO THE BOOK LAUNCH
We invited Cammy’s family by sending a simple multimedia text message. Although we didn’t give much notice to family members, they were keen to come along to support Cammy.
6. PREPARING AND PLANNING A BOOK LAUNCH
We kept the party planning very simple:
- We chose to serve food that can be easily prepared with the help of children (fairy bread, cupcakes, popcorn, sausage rolls and party pies).
- We set up a book signing table at Cammy’s writing station.
- We provided and wrapped book thank you gifts for each of the children at the launch party (it was The Reading Hour after all).
- Face-painting was on the top of Cammy’s book launch list. It was something she’d seen at other book launches. Tattoo pens seemed like a simple compromise.
- We also used the event to showcase Cammy’s abundant art work. For a bit of fun, we added price tags to each piece of art.
7. BOOK LAUNCH READING AND SIGNING
Cammy practised her speaking skills by reading her book aloud to her audience. Her family was completely enthralled and blown away by her confidence. Her humorous punch lines were well-received too.
Cammy thoroughly enjoyed her night. We were both on Cloud Nine as she discussed her art and signed books.
Our most talented authors and writers surely had humble beginnings. I get quite excited about the effect this book launch may have on Cammy- on her love for writing, her desire to write, and on her confidence as a writer. A little bit of effort for a rewarding future certainly seems worth it.
I was quite moved to receive a copy of Hatched from Fremantle Press last year. Writing competitions and awards are another way for children to showcase their love and talent for writing and the Tim Winton Award for Young Writers encourages creativity and imagination, and provides young writers with an opportunity to develop their writing skills. Hatched is a collection of the winning stories from 1993 to 2012, all written by children aged 10-16. Reading the short stories made me miss the classroom more than ever before. The stories were brilliant, but I was excited for the children that their stories had been published in this way.