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01 June 2016

3 Things Kids & Writers Worry About | IWSG

For a few months during this past school year, I volunteered as part of an after school Y-Reads! program at the local elementary school in Indiantown, Florida. The program is designed to improve reading skills in K-3rd grade students in low-income areas. I helped out by reading books to small groups of students and engaging them in activities to broaden their understanding of the stories and motivate them to want to read.

I'm sure the students learned heaps through the program and had fun doing so, but I also learned a few things as well. In particular, I got to know what kids worry about, as seen through children's literature, some of which seems eerily similar to what I worry about as a writer. Seemed like the perfect thing to share with the folks at the Insecure Writer's Support Group this month, highlighting three of the books I read to the kids. However, even if you're not a writer, I think many of the rest of you can relate too. After all, we were all kids at one point, some of us have kids and many of us are (hopefully) still kids at heart.

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"I'm worried that I'll never be grown up (experienced) enough to deserve what all the older kids (authors) have!"

BINTOU'S BRAIDS by Sylviane A. Diouf & illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Image Source: Bintou's Braids on Amazon.


THE STORY - Bintou desperately wants long, beautiful braids like her older sister and the other women in her village in West Africa. But, as she's too young for braids, all she has are four little tufts of hair which are cornrowed. Her grandmother explains to her that tradition means that she has to wait until she's older to get braids in order to avoid vanity.

THE WORRY - Let's face it, it sucks to have to wait until you're old enough to get something like braids or a bike. Will you ever grow up? Will you have to wait forever? Writing can be kind of like that at times. Will I ever get enough experience to be able to write a decent novel worthy of publication? Or, will I be stuck being a novice writer forever?

SPOILER ALERT - Bintou saves the day and as a reward gets her very own braids before most girls her age do.

You can find Bintou's Braids on Amazon.


"I'm worried that no one is going to like me and they'll think my name (book) is stupid!"

THE NAME JAR by Yangsook Choi

Image Source: The Name Jar on Amazon.

THE STORY - Unhei has just moved to the States from Korea with her family. Her classmates have trouble pronouncing her name and she worries that they won't like her. She decides to pick another name from the suggestions that the other kids put in a jar for her - like Miranda, Suzy and Laura.

THE WORRY - Childhood is utterly fraught with worry about what other kids think of you. Wait a minute, adulthood can be full of that too. Do I look fat in this? springs to mind. Writers worry about what other people think of them too. Does everyone hate my book? Do they think I'm a butcher of the English language? I bet even my mom won't buy a copy!

SPOILER ALERT - Unhei sticks with her own name in the end and stops worrying about what the other kids think.

You can find The Name Jar on Amazon.

 
"I've taken on a big challenge. Am I up for it? Will I let my family and friends down?"

FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN by Jane Kurtz & illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Image Source: Fire on the Mountain on Amazon.

THE STORY - Hoping to secure his and his sister's future, an Ethiopian boy bets his rich master that he can spend a bitterly cold night alone on a mountain. With only the sight of a distant fire to warm his spirit, but not his body, he survives the night. But, his master refuses to honor the bet arguing that the boy cheated because he saw a distant fire, which was as good as a real fire, even though it didn't keep him warm.

THE WORRY - Part of growing up is taking on new challenges, learning new skills and taking risks, like spending the night alone on a mountain or going away for the first time to sleep-away camp. Trying to write your first novel can be daunting. Heck, even telling people you're going to try to write a novel can be daunting, let alone doing it. You might feel like you're never going to finish the darn thing, you'll disappoint everyone and prove to all that you are indeed a failure.

SPOILER ALERT - The boy turns the tables on his master, beating him at his own game.

You can find Fire on the Mountain on Amazon.

What lessons have you learned from children's literature and kids themselves when it comes to worrying about writing and life's other challenges? Do you do any volunteer work?

Linked up with the Insecure Writer's Support Group.



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40 comments:

  1. Oh, I remember reading Fire On the Mountain in school!

    These are all great examples of turning lessons from books into writing lessons. I would definitely say that fearing I'll never be a 'grown up' is one of my struggles.

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    1. Some of the books I read to the kids I remember reading as a kid. It was so much fun to reread them again!

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  2. I love it. It's funny, no matter how old we get, we still worry about the same things. I suppose it's just part of the human condition, eh?

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    1. I think adults are just better at hiding their fears than kids.

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  3. Yes, even as adults, we worry what others will think. I wonder what that stems from?
    I still worry about not being good enough. I've always been a perfectionist and that's hard to shake.

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    1. That perfectionist thing gets me too. I never feel like anything is good enough.

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  4. I love The Name Jar synopsis! Good for Unhei.
    I love old fashion kids literature - The Wind in the Willows, The Narnia Series - lots of good themes like courage, friendship and good overcoming evil in the end. -Lucy

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    1. That was such a fun book! I love the Narnia series. I've reread them more than once.

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  5. I've never wanted to be an author. I was a cop for 25 years and I wrote reports almost daily. I did a million papers in college. I do okay, but writing for a living wouldn't be a fun thing for me.

    I volunteer in all things boating. Sometimes it's so much that I think I'm back at work.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. But think of all of the interesting stories you must have having been a cop. That would make for a good book :-)

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  6. The book that stayed with me to this day is The Black Stallion. I loved the time when the boy and stallion were on the island. Something about running free along the beach was liberating.

    I volunteer as the La Cruz Writers' Group organizer and manager. We are located in La Cruz, Mexico (about 20 miles north of Puerto Vallarta) on the Pacific ocean side of Mexico. Most of our members live on boats and sail to our marina to escape the cold winters. Then float back north when our summers temps climb.

    If you're in the area, please join us. We meet every Saturday.

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    1. How fun that you run a writer's group! If I ever get to that side of Mexico, I'll definitely pop by!

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  7. What a great post! Yes, these things are worrisome for most people even well into adulthood! The part about how the writing will be received is always a tender spot. I try to remind myself that I am writing for me, but it still stings a bit when people don't respond well.

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    1. I know what you mean about it stinging when people don't respond well. As much as I write for myself, I still care what people think.

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  8. This is such a great post! Thank you for sharing. Worry over no one liking the book (or us) is so real. I wish we could get over this as adults in the way we inform kids to move past it themselves.

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for popping by :-)

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  9. This is such a great post! My aunt's friend gave her boxes of children's books for my aunt's grandchildren--some of them I recognized as books I read as a child, others were more recent. My niece is all into the Harry Potter books right now and those are rife with adult themes and worries we carry into adulthood as well.

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    1. The Harry Potter books are wonderful whether you're a kid or an adult. I really enjoyed discovering new children's books as part of this program. There are some really great ones out there.

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  10. Nice post! I'm a single mom, and I seem to worry about everything! As writers I think we all worry more than others.

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    1. Being a single mom is such a tough job! I admire folks like you who solo parent :-)

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  11. That's a great approach - though I don't know any of the books which presumably haven't been published over here. I often think children's and young adult books are better written and more thoughtful than adult books.
    The Glasgow Gallivanter

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    1. What I love about children's books are the illustrations. Why can't adult books be illustrated like that?

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  12. The second story strikes close to home for me because I help a lot of refugees from Myanmar, I've even been learning their language. The point is, many have names very unusual to most Aemricans and it can be a struggle at times to get their names right. But with a bit of patience and work, it can be done. Same goes for our stories. Nothing good ever comes over night. We have to be just as patient and work hard. I know because I'm still working hard and trying to be patient.

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    1. Good on you for learning their language! That must be so interesting! Great advice to be patient and work hard - perseverance is the key.

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  13. Those worries and more cross my mind, but I push them away--or try to. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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    1. I try to as well, but it isn't always easy :-(

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  14. My almost 9-yr-old granddaughter is reading Anne of Green Gables. When I told her it was my fav book when I was a girl, she just looked at me. I almost expected her to ask if they had books when I was little. LOL

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    1. I LOVE that book! I had seen the TV series when I was a kid, but never read the book until a few months ago. I cried at the end even though I knew what was coming. Such a wonderful story and characters.

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  15. I read "A Wrinkle in Time" so many times I can quote whole chunks of it to this day. All-time favorite quote, "Alike and equal are not the same thing." Applies to so many situations.

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    1. Oh, I loved that book when I was a kid! That one would be a good one to reread now.

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  16. These are great themes for kids and adults! I truly wish I had more time (and money) to do volunteer work. It is one of the few things I say that "I'll do when I am retired!" :-)

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    1. Volunteering was my way of procrastinating boat projects :-)

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  17. Great books! I have Fire on the Mountain, and I know the author. We were both living in Grand Forks, ND when she wrote that one. Excellent storytelling and encouragement of bravery.

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    1. How neat that you know the author! It's a wonderful book!

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  18. What amazing books! I love the diversity of your picks.

    I'm not sure I can think of anything I've learned from a child's book recently, or a common worry between kids and writers, but it just goes to show that we're all more alike than different.

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    1. I loved the variety of books they had on hand to read with the kids - it was hard to just pick three of them.

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  19. Yes, yes and yes to all of those worries and probably a shed-load more.
    I volunteer at my kid's school, helping teach Forest School, it's great to watch them learn new skills and just run free.

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    1. Teaching Forest School sounds like such fun :-)

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  20. I teach a grade 8 and 9 class of English, and I love reading aloud to the learners. It's mutually beneficial.
    Growing up, I can remember enjoying The World's Best Fairytales volume one and two, published by Readers Digest. There are so many great lessons in these stories.
    I also remember the Anne Of Green Gables series.

    I think my worry would be that I'll never be experienced enough to deserve what all the older authors have. Simply because experience takes time to accumulate and in the writing field, I'm a late bloomer...
    But I'm still trudging along.
    Writer In Transit

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    1. I loved reading fairy tales when I was growing up as well. I get what you mean about experience taking time to accumulate. I'm new to all of this writing stuff (started so much later then everyone else it seems) and worry that it's too late to be able to really make anything of it.

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