Creative Writing for Beginning Readers: School Stories

Yesterday children between the ages of 5 and 8 got practice putting together stories using creative tools we gave them. First, we discussed a famous quote by John Le Carré:

The cat sat on the mat is not a story. The cat sat on the other cat’s mat is a story.

What makes the second sentence a story and not the first? The second sentence has two characters with different interests or motivations, and something happens to spark a conflict between them! Those are the basic elements you need for a story.

We practiced reconstructing “scrambled stories,” which are very short easy-to-read stories that were cut up and scrambled. The kids had to place the lines in the correct order to reconstruct the story’s beginning, middle and end. They did a GREAT job with this exercise–either it was too easy, or maybe it was just right for them! They got their stories unscrambled in no time.





After this exercise, kids were again invited to make their own books about school, creating stories inspired by the pictures we placed on the tables for them to glue into their books. The pictures give kids a great visual and hands-on entry into creative writing. We encouraged them to think about how their stories would develop. One child told a story about an alien who goes to school and meets with fear and avoidance from the students, but eventually makes friends with them. Another child told a story about a “bad” boy who constantly gets in trouble (and doesn’t learn his lesson–kind of an anti-hero!). Another child told a story about a monster who attacks a school and eats everyone, and then you find out that it was all just a dream! What inventive kids!

Parents, caregivers and staff helped the kids a lot with writing their stories. Mostly with spelling difficult words, but sometimes asking questions to offer guidance or to help the child to work out the next part of his or her story.










Here are some of their finished books!









I love that the kids come away with a book they have written. I hope it inspires them to read more books, and write more books!

AnnMarie Kolakowski

I'm a youth services librarian currently working at the Lamanda Park Branch Library while Central Library is closed for seismic repairs. I purchase juvenile fiction for grades 2-8, and some foreign languages. I do a lot of programs with school-age kids, including 3 regular book clubs (Windows and Mirrors, Read Around the World, and Lucha Libros), as well as writing workshops and STEAM/science programs. I also Infant/Toddler Storytimes and Preschool Storytimes, and outreach to local area preschools. I love what I do, working with kids of all ages to inspire them to learn and use their curiosity and imaginations. Outside of my work at the library, I am also the author of a book on creative writing activities for kids.

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