Today, my son published his first ebook on Etsy. I'm so proud of his dedication and drive in completing this process. He also dictated 784 more words to me today, the beginnings of a collection of interconnected short stories about monsters. Tonight, he begged to stay up later so we could write more. Did I mention he is only four-years-old?
I am an English major and have long loved the written word, both consuming and producing it. I have dreamed of sharing this love with my children as they got older. My son is currently not so interested in reading, but he adores writing. I'm not worried in the slightest as I know that one leads to other which leads to other skills. And I'm proud (but a bit jealous) that my son is out-writing his writer mama.
Note: I'm not an literacy teacher. I'm just a mama who loves to share what is working for our family. If you have any concerns about your kids, you should consult a professional.
How to make writing fun for kids?
Allow them time to write for the fun of expression and communication. Fostering the love of writing and self-expression is important. There is plenty of time to perfect letters, grammar, and punctuation.
- Start with pretending, telling each other stories, nursery rhymes, and singing. Play is the beginning of literacy.
- READ. Listen to audio books, podcasts, read aloud, read together. Read, read, read. Go to the library frequently. Become friends with your librarian. Make use of the library's audio books, talking books, easy readers, chapter books, non-fiction books. Swim in books.
- Have your child dictate a story to you. Write it down exactly and then read it back. Talk about what sounds funny (beginnings of self-checking in grammar). Ask questions about description (what does that character or location look, sound, smell, feel like?). Talk about what is confusing, interesting, funny. Most stories written by children are hilarious. Keep story time short and fun.
- Have your child sign their name on every birthday card you send and every picture they draw.
- Have them write out the grocery or to-do list. You can draw pictures next to each item making it easier for everyone to read at the store.
- Make a map of your neighborhood complete with signs and street names. We have also made fictional maps of imaginary worlds (great to bring in toy trains, cars, and animals!).
- Write a story with your child about their favorite character or toy. In the beginning, take turns writing but still sounding out words together.
- Write a longer piece together, having your child hold the pencil first with your hand covering theirs. This is an incredibly cozy way to write together.
- Ask your child to draw a picture. Then diagram the picture with words explaining what is happening. This works especially well in conjunction with science - anatomy, biology, technology, mechanics, etc.
- Ask your child to start a diary (start with a short period - like a vacation or weekend). A nature journal a la Charlotte Mason would also be perfect.
- Listen to the Story Pirates podcast. These zany stories are written by kids and then adapted by by professional actors and comedians. They welcome story submissions! My son recently wrote and submitted a story that was accepted by the Story Pirates! The piece will be performed this winter. So exciting.
- Work up to writing a multi-page story with illustrations.
- Write an ebook with your child! This is as simple as writing a story, inserting photos or illustrations or graphics, then saving as a pdf.
- Tune into what motivates your child. My son is very interested in earning money at the moment. His deep desire is to go to college to become a Lego designer which he knows costs money. Thus, creating an ebook for sale (even if it's only bought by the grandparents!) was a logical jump on his part. This also opened up the conversation about market forces (why an ebook for $1,000,000 doesn't sell, but if you sell ebooks for a smaller amount you are more likely to make more money), fees and profits (Etsy charges for listing fees), means of advertising, and the rudimentary basics of graphic designing.