My two grade-school-age daughters have grown up with a love of the written word and frequently get lost deep inside a well told tale — such is the chief occupational hazard of being an at-home dad who spends many an hour trying to hammer out a poetic paragraph! It’s not at all uncommon for them to start writing a dozen stories over the course of a long weekend, but few are ever finished — sadly, we may never know how The Inventor’s Duel ends.
That’s one reason the co-authored book project for kids is volumes of fun — kids get creative help in seeing a story through to its exciting conclusion. As a bonus they’ll keep a special friend or far-away family member close at the same time.
What You Will Need
- postage stamps
- sharpened pencil and/or crayons
- paper (wide ruled for older kids / story tablet paper for younger writers)
How To Begin The Project
Find a suitable co-author! This can be a buddy from school that your child won’t see during the summer months, a long-distance friend, or a family member — even grown-ups can play along! Once a co-author is ‘under contract,’ have your child provide a title and/or primary action or lead character, anything at all to get the ball rolling. Keep in mind that a classic “Once Upon A Time” opener is a perfectly good place to begin this summer writing activity. Once your child runs out of storytelling steam, neatly fold the page(s), slide into an envelope, address and stamp it, and place in the mailbox — don’t forget to put the flag up!
Now it’s time for the co-author to add to the story. They should add on a few lines, the entire next page, or whatever they’d like to do to move the narrative in an interesting, open-ended direction. Soon, the authors will be volleying their story back and forth, adding pages as the the tale grows.
In a flash, your child and their co-author will have developed keen insights into each others minds, explored the creative process of writing a story, and be the proud owners of a new co-authored book! At this point, feel free to add pages of illustration and/or take to a photocopier to make additional copies of the book to share with family and friends.
One Final Thought
Seasonal reading programs are wonderful initiatives that help kick start the imaginations of young children while helping them avoid the summer slide, but fun writing activities take those same goals to new heights by making literature an active experience! Co-authoring a book with a faraway family member or a friend in another time zone is an opportunity for a child to express their own creativity and at the same time, you’ll be helping to foster the vivid imagination of youth. It’s an easy and exciting win-win summer writing activity!
More Adventures in Learning
Download a Free Episode
Whether you’re at home or on the road this summer, PBS KIDS can be your partner in on-the-go learning. With our award-winning mobile apps (including the PBS KIDS video player) and PBS KIDS video available for download you can ensure your kids will have a trusty educational travel companion all summer long. Stop by our PBS KIDS Raising Readers home at iTunes and download a free episode this week! This week’s free episode is WordGirl: Theme Park Wham-Page/Chuck Makes a Buck.