I got hit (again) by the Fashion Police in the form of a security guard when I arrived at the Public Library for my Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project 2.0 – a follow up to last week’s teen workshop in the same location. I have to say, like the writer of this letter re a similar dress code elsewhere in the Caribbean, I’m still not getting what’s inappropriate about bare arms in the tropics when going to the library…bare arms in a dress so long it was sweeping the ground, plus I had on this little sleeveless jacket-y thing over it. What was showing…my arms and a bit of my chest.
That said, I do appreciate being able to partner with the library (and donors Brenda Lee Browne and Aisha Ralph) to return for a session this week with the younger kids.
How’d it go?
Well, my goals were simple – keep it simple, spark their interest and imagination, get them imagining.
My strategy was to bring stories of likely interest to that age group (12 and younger) and get them talking about those stories, building on them, creating their own. The stories I chose were by past Wadadli Pen finalists in the 12 and younger age category because I wanted to show them examples of people in their age group writing stories, stories they could enjoy. There was Mongoose in a Hole written by then 10 year old Keillia Mentor, The Adventures of Mr. Coconut by another fifth grader Akeile Benjamin, and Legend of the Sea Lords by Vega Armstrong, also 10 at the time she wrote it. With the first, after reading and discussing, we tried telling the same story from the point of view of another character and drawing that character (and since the story hadn’t been very specific about what type of animal that character was, they got to get creative with that).
The second story ended with Mr. Coconut back from his adventures and their challenge, and they chose to accept it, was to imagine how Mr. Coconut would get back home i.e. back up the tree – would he catapult, leap on a frog’s back, be assisted by his bird-friend, have a boy and girl finagle some kind of rope device to sling shot him up the tree, or simply climb. These were all ideas they came up with, the rules of physics be damned. We did a group writing exercise based on visual prompts…but that kind of fell apart when during the first group’s presentation of their story some of the boys couldn’t stop giggling over the name Bobby (which, spelled slightly differently, in the Antiguan vernacular, means something that makes children giggle). By the time we got to the Legend of the Sea Lords, I don’t mind telling you I was drained. Children will drain you, friend.
But they declared that they loved all the stories and hopefully something was sparked.
Shameless plug alert: Would I work with children so young again? Sure, but I’d take my vitamins first. I offer writing workshops for all age groups. Details here.