Yesterday I went to hear some of the most talented children in NYC read excerpts from their own original stories. (In case you were wondering, yes it was on a date.)
There is a terrific place in the Manhattan called "Writopia Lab." It is a place where children of all ages who are interested in writing can go to develop skills, get their ideas onto paper, or just explore their own imagination. I have visited the lab once and it is truly a terrific environment. The children don't sit at tables with a paper and pen; they sit in nice comfortable couches with laptops. They are not limited to what they can write. They are encouraged to take their own ideas and mold them into a story.
Yesterday was their end-of-the-year finale event where almost 100 kids of all ages came to perform their excerpts. While the stories were incredible, the program was very well-run and the format was exceptional, I would like to focus on something that I saw there that is often difficult to find in adults, much less in children. The ability to perform in public takes guts, especially from a kid who speaking to an auditorium full of people that he or she has never even seen before.
Earlier in the day I attended my college graduation. I was actually a little embarrassed when the valedictorian delivered her address. While she seemed confident, she paused a few times for laughter (her own) and sounded like Pip from "Enchanted." It was bury-your-head-in-your-face time for every graduate in my row.
The point is that these kids were so impressive in their ability to speak in front of a large audience. I don't know if they were trained for that, or simply trained in confidence, but they clearly were not shaken by the size of the room.
If you are between the ages of 9-17 and want to go into writing or have or plan on having children between those ages, and want them to try to express their own creativity, Writopia certainly has my endorsement, and if you can't trust an anonymous blogger on the internet, who can you trust?