Ti's the season for a lot of posting about NaNaWriMo. I know by week three (it is week three isn’t it?) everyone had probably heard enough to decide if it’s for them or, you know, just for the crazy people. But there is one little aspect of the event that is not really represented in the slog of chanting and keyboard throwing.
Probably because it’s not really something we can participate in.
When I had kiddos mmhh phmm years ago, I feared my November noveling frenzy was about to take a major hit. It did at first. I tossed off a book with a baby on one arm, but it was hard. I almost whiffed it that year, for certain. Then my kids got a little older. They weren't exactly writing yet, but they could lift a crayon, right?
I clicked on that YWP button that hides so merrily in plain sight on the NaNo homepage. Wow. There’s, like, a whole other site in there! You may think, who cares? I don’t have or plan to have children, and really, what kind of Sesame Street noveling are they doing over there anyway. She said crayon. I’m outta here.
Stick with me for just a second. I promise I’m not trying to recruit you to mommy-hood. Unless you want….oh never mind.
I want to share what happened with my son, and how I think it can benefit literacy, storytelling and pretty much everything we do as adult authors too.
So, thinking it would assist me with my own noveling freedom, I signed my pre-K son up for YWP (young writer’s program) and we were off. The first year, he couldn't read or write. Wait, wait…I know. He could make his letters, and we set our own word count goals in YWP land. He made a very sketchy alphabet book and we were off.
The second year he learned to read. He wrote over 500 words. Still sketchy, but kinda cool. My daughter did the alphabet that year. My friend’s kiddo dictated to her and she typed it down. Rules are wiggly in YWP because OMG it’s not about winning. Also, I have lots of friends with kids. Mommy’s you know travel in herds. They all tried something different, but they all got the same result.
Kids who were rabid about story.
If we do the math that’s, kids who are rabid about story extrapolated to the highest power equals ADULTS who are….you get it.
This year my son is eight. He reads well, writes beautiful letters and plays a lot of video games. I was worried about the video game thing. I mean, when we get serious, I suspect games are the direct competitor of reading. He picked a thousand words to shoot for this year. He’s also a little autistic, and like, I showed him the graphs and number bars and stats because I’m evil and know how his motivation works.
“Can I put in my words mom!!!”
His story has plot this year. It has characters with dialogue. It has action and boss battles (cause you just can’t purge that gamer completely) and it has a hat made out of watermelons. SO much awesome.
It’s entertaining, and not just to me. Best of all, we are one furious noveling family. Also, the YWP site is pretty. It has a dare machine. Some days, I’m tempted to use it. They also give out classroom kits and loaner computers and do a lot of great things for future readers.
All around win.