A couple of weekend's ago, I attended the Texas PTA Summer Leadership Seminar. Mostly I was in workshops related to Membership as I somehow got talked in to being the Membership chair of the Early Childhood PTA that I belong to. But I did get to attend a couple of "fun" workshops as well.
My favorite was a workshop by children's author Melissa M. Williams. She is the author of the Iggy the Iguana series. If you ever have the chance to attend a workshop or series with her, you should definitely go!
She talked about the importance of inspiring creativity through literacy. Children are exposed to so many different role models through TV, movies, music. But it seems they are less and less influenced by characters in books.
One way that she encouraged parents and educators to inspire reading and a love for books is to help them "write" their own stories. If your children are old enough to write, you can literally help them write their own story. She has lots of great resources on the Iggy the Iguana website including writing tips for kids, contests, and bios for the author, illustrator and characters.
Since my children are 3 and 18 months, I was trying to figure out a way to incorporate what I learned that was appropriate for their age level. With my 18 month old, I just try to nurture her love for books by reading to her before her nap and bedtime and all times in between.
But for my 3 year old, I decided to try letting him "write" his own story. After we read a couple of books (per our normal nightly routine), he gets to make up his own stories. I start by asking him "who's going to be the character in our story tonight?" Sometimes he names an animal (bunny, dog, dinosaur), sometimes he says himself, and a few times he's wanted the family cat to be the character. Then I ask him the character's name (we've had Buddy, BatBallHat, a snake named dog). Finally, I ask him what the character likes to do (play soccer, spin around getting dizzy, fly). Then I proceed to tell the story about the character that he invented doing whatever it is that character likes to do. And he LOVES it! Sometimes there's a message in the story, sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's neither. But he always seems to enjoy them.
I was afraid it was going to be a little abstract for him, but he really likes the stories and he loves being the one to give the details. It's been such a fun nightly routine for us. I've written several of his stories down so he can read them someday...who knows, he might be a budding author!
So give it a try with your kids. And if you do, let me know how it goes!