Thursday is World Book Day - a celebration of authors, illustrators, books - and reading - where children of all ages will come together to appreciate the art of reading! Designated by Unesco as a worldwide celebration of books, it has year-after-year attracted the very best authors in the world to encourage children to realise the glory of books.
Every year we at Explore Learning, organise our very own National Young Writers' Award where we encourage children from schools all over the UK to write a 500 word story with a prize of a trip to Disney Land Paris for them and their family and £500 worth of books for their school. This year we're thrilled to have last year's World Book Day author, Liz Pichon, as our judge! But how can you inspire the Liz Pichons, the Cressida Cowells and the J K Rowlings of tomorrow to get writing? Here are my tips to inspire children to love the art of writing...
It is very important for children to start writing from a young age, and I don't mean just writing stories but writing anything at all! It doesn't matter if they don't finish writing the stories, as long as they're practicing their own stories as much as they possibly can and creating something unique.
Make up stories about people they know
Some children may struggle to come up with characters' names and personalities so to resolve this encourage them to write about their favourite characters from TV or film - or perhaps one of their friends or family.
Encourage their love of reading
Reading books to a child is a great way of sparking their imagination, even to an older child. Once children learn to read, you're sometimes tempted to let them get on with it, but if you read a book with a child or put on a tape, you're enjoying the book with them. You're sending a message that books are important, reading is important, and therefore writing is important. Encouraging them to enjoy stories is the starting point to sparking their imagination.
Don't get too bogged down in grammar
Of course grammar is essential later in life, but I can't emphasise enough that grammar can't and shouldn't prevent creativity. It shouldn't stop a child's imagination running free and putting down in writing something special. Time and time again I have come across a child who is self conscious about their poor grammar and spelling. Sadly it can create an insecurity that acts as a barrier to potentially great work. Quite simply, if a child starts their creative writing by thinking they have to be perfect, they won't express themselves in the way they want to.
At Explore Learning, grammar isn't the first thing we focus on: in our Creative Writing classes it's all about ideas. Dare I say it, it doesn't matter if you can't spell some things; what's important is that you've got some brilliant ideas that aren't 'dumbed down' by an inability to express yourself perfectly grammatically.
Write about Real Life
What they write doesn't need to be fictional; if it helps them to put pen to paper, ask them to write about something exciting that happened lately. Encourage them to use vivid, emotive language. Once they've done this they can move onto making up their own stories where they can let their imagination take control!
Avoid the TV
Getting children to love reading and writing can prove to be a challenge, especially with television, films and games being it's most harsh competitors. Having some family reading time can be very powerful. If your child sees you replacing TV with books then they are more likely to be inspired to get excited about it too.
Competitions are a fantastic way to give children confidence in their writing. They get impartial feedback on their work and if they do well it will drive them further!
To celebrate World Book Day, we're running a competition to win Tom Gates Books signed by award winning author, Liz Pichon. Follow us on twitter @exploretutors to find out more!