Oh, man, what I wouldn’t give to be twelve years old again … and no, it’s not because I miss the acne and awkward junior high social scene so much. A recent article by Publisher’s Weekly showcases a fairly new summer camp for kids ages 9-12, made specifically for kids who love to read and write. While they’re there, campers receive a package that contains all the books they’ll need for the time they’re there, and the books’ authors come in and talk to them about the writing process and about their books. Some of the authors even do readings for the campers and oversee writing exercises and field trips. I mean, seriously, summer camp has never been so cool.
It’s programs like these that make me proud to be part of the YA/MG genre. Those of you who know me already know that I’m passionate about promoting literacy in pre-teens and teens, and I’m up for anything that will help our young adults pick up a book instead of watching TV all night.
If my community had hosted events like these when I was a kid, I would’ve jumped at the chance to be involved, and I know many others who’ve said the same. So what do you do if you want these programs in your own community and you don’t live in Manhattan? It’s easy! talk to your local writing groups about possibly sponsoring an event for kids ages 18 and younger or get involved in your kids’ schools and ask if you can host an event there. If you don’t have kids and just want to help promote literacy and writing for children in your community, talk with your local bookstores and libraries to see if they’d be willing to help. Many libraries already have low- or no-cost reading groups and writing events set up, and chances are that if they don’t, they’ll at least be willing to entertain the idea. You could even talk to some local authors to see if they could come in and talk to the group(s) about the writing process or what made them decide to be an author.
There is definitely a need for these types of activities in the pre-teen and teen age groups, and we want to give them as much positive reinforcement as we can. And if you have other ideas of how we can promote reading and writing (or you want to share ways you’re already doing this in your own community), feel free to share in the comments!