Would You Read It Wednesday – The 40th Pitch and Book’s Journey

Happy Wednesday, amigos!

I am eyebrow deep in a week of school visits and having tons of fun!

This is the week I get to participate in what I consider to be one of the best programs for kids there is.  It’s called Book’s Journey, and it is the brainchild of Pat Sexton who is a passionate advocate of Arts in Education.  I think every school should do this, so I’m hoping if I tell you all about it, maybe the word will get out and some other schools will give it a try 🙂

Here’s what the kids get to do:

The program is for 4th grade (although I think it could easily be done with 5th or 6th grade too.)

They begin with visits from an author, an illustrator, and an author/illustrator who talk about the creative spark (basically where they get their ideas from) and show and tell a little bit about how they work.

Then each child is given a notebook/journal to draft his or her story in.  Over the next two weeks or so, the kids work on their stories in selected class periods and as much as they want on their own.

Then I come in right at the point where they’re all getting stuck and aren’t sure what to do 🙂  We talk about the elements of story – what things you need to make a story work – character, setting, problem/goal etc. – and what you can do to get your story going again if it has stalled out.

A week after my visit, a professional editor comes in to help them edit their stories.

This is followed by a book cover designer who teaches them basics of making an attention-grabbing cover.

Finally a marketing specialist comes in and talks to them about various ways to market books.

Illustrations are created on separate pages so they can be easily put into the finished book, which will be handmade by each child.

They finish the whole spring project with a book fair to which parents and all the rest of the students in the school are invited.  Each book is displayed for everyone to view and read.

Doesn’t that just sound amazing?  I wish my school had had a program like that when I was in 4th grade (or ever!)!  I think it’s such a valuable experience for the kids to get that much hands-on learning from professionals in the field of writing and publishing, and to have the opportunity to create and display their own work.  They come away from the experience feeling that writing and illustrating are possibilities, not just pipe dreams, and that has to be a boost to their creative spirits.

So please, go forth and spread the word! 🙂

Now then, grab a donut!  It’s time for everybody’s favorite Wednesday feature, Would You Read It!

This week’s pitch comes to us from Jarm, a freelance writer for Women & Children.  She has been published three times in Thriving Family Magazine.  Her passion is to make the Bible and history come alive for children.  Feel free to check out her blog.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title:  Waiting For An Idea
Age/Genre:  PB (ages 6-11)
The Pitch:  Jerry is waiting for an idea to come.  He walks his dog, swings in his backyard, and even goes inside for milk and cookies. hoping to coax one into his head.  But, alas, it’s not until he opens Aunt Polly’s gift that an idea… well… an avalanche of ideas, spill forth!

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?
If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Jarm improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)
Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in August, so you have time to polish 🙂 for a chance for it to be read by editor Erin Molta!
Jarm is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!
And I am off to another day of school visiting 🙂

Scribblitt – Writing Fun For Kids Of All Ages!

I discovered something fun, and of course couldn’t wait to share it!

Whether you’re a parent or teacher with children who love to write or children who need to find the fun in writing, or a writer who wants to play around, you’re going to like this!

It’s fun, it’s free, it’s safe for kids, and it’s called Scribblitt,

and here with us today is Scribblitt’s creator, Andrea Bergstein.  Welcome, Andrea!

Andrea Bergstein and her girls – the inspiration for Scribblitt

SLH:  Where did you get the idea for Scribblitt?

AB:  My daughter, an avid writer for her age, writes story after story and always asks me to help her get them published.  My younger daughter, a budding illustrator draws non stop.  The trail of paper in my house is endless!  I wanted to encourage their efforts as I learned through research that reading helps develop your writing skills, but writing helps develop your cognitive growth, organizational ability and the power to influence others through persuasion.  I decided to create an online space for all kids to be able to create, write, and illustrate and then, the ultimate goal, to professionally publish their stories.  There are lots of helpful writing tools, illustrating tools, word games, writing contests, and even celebrity author interviews.
An overview of Scribblitt’s Home Page
SLH:  Do you have credentials that make you uniquely suited for developing Scribblitt?

AB:  My expertise is actually in Marketing Kids products.  I spent 10 years (in 3 countries) Marketing some of the world’s most loved toys – Barbie, Polly Pocket, and Hot Wheels.  I also ran the Marketing for Nelvana Animation Studios, building brands like Babar, Franklin and Beyblade.  Then I spent many years working as a Consultant on kids products like Universal Studios Home Video, Campbell’s Soup, Danon and more.  Not only that, I am a Mom!  I have spent years looking at what kids like to do online, how to encourage educational use of the computer, what tools would be helpful to them in the writing and illustration arena, and how to keep them safe online.  I have gathered all this valuable information, talked with teachers and many in the online fields.  

SLH:  Did you create the whole site yourself, or did you hire a computer-savvy someone to construct it to your specifications?

AB:  I wrote an outline of what I wanted Scribblitt to look like and what functions I wanted it to have and then hired specialists to help me make it happen.

SLH:  What are your goals for the program?

AB:  Scribblitt is an amazing tool for kids, to encourage them to create and write.  I would like to spread the word about Scribblitt to all kids 7-12 years old – everyone has a story to tell! I am committed to adding features to the site that matter to kids, tools that will help them achieve a fabulous finished products, and more products that they can create.
A sample of the type of illustration you can create

SLH:  What do you wish people knew?

AB:  Writing is such an important skill and we should be spending more time on it with our kids to help foster their creativity, develop their cognitive growth, organizational abilities and levels of persuasiveness.  

SLH:  Anything else you’d like to add or talk about?

AB:  Scribblitt also makes a great fundraiser for schools or organizations!  Simply register at www.scribblitt.com/fundraising, we will give you a special code to share with your school or organization.  Kids write a story and publish it and earn their school/organization 10% of all sales (within an agreed upon timeframe).

Thank you, Andrea!  I would like to add that Scribblitt has many helpful features.  The “Write It” section includes story starters and tips on how to plan characters, setting, and main idea, as well as how to map beginning, middle and end.  By answering the questions posed, young writers will grasp the basics of story by coming to it in their own way rather than by being told what to do.  For the child who loves to write, this is an opportunity to give wings to their imagination.  For the child who isn’t sure how to write, Scribblitt will give them the tools they need to make writing accessible and fun.

Please visit Scribblitt (www.scribblitt.com) and like Scribblitt on FaceBook!

I hope everyone will go give Scribblitt a try.  If you do, please let us know how you like it, and spread the word to others who might be interested.  If you have any additional questions for Andrea, ask them here 🙂