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Taking young writers seriously

Thirty-five faculty and staff got gifts from seventh graders last Friday.


Each seventh grader wrote a novel over the course of November.


They handed the first copies off to faculty and staff volunteers, who will read them over break, then meet with the writers in January to share their feedback.


The novel folders included letters hand-crafted for each reader, and a package of cocoa for the reader.


The intense burst of work was an important step on their path to becoming adult authors.


But it was by no means the first step.


Across the school, first graders were putting finishing touches on their own books.


They shared them with classmates, who each wrote them thoughtful feedback.


They read them aloud to their classes.


On this coming Friday, they will share them with their families during an authors' celebration.


The authors' celebration is an annual occasion that is well-remembered by at least one seventh grader.


Earlier this week, prompted by the poem The Lanyard by Billy Collins, a seventh grade novel-writer wrote an ode to family, gratitude and the experience of the first grade author celebration.


In these freshly written lines, included below, this Middle School author makes the case for taking young writers seriously.


When I give gifts, they are almost always books.
Not special in words, not special in looks.
And they often mean no more than a simple acknowledgement,
Of some holiday tradition, where any real meaning is absent.


I give stories others have written, I let strangers speak to you.
And I’m sure those words often rang untrue.
Because it should have been me speaking, and when I was younger, 
Out of some want to give you something that mattered; some longing, or endless hunger,
I realized that, and knew what to do,
I wrote a story, and I gave it to you. 


It was nothing special, and I’m sure I’ve written better since.
Do you even remember when I gave that gift?
I barely do, except for faint details.
Written in blue marker, full of winged dragons with spiky tails. 
But I made it myself, foolishly thinking in childhood mischief, 
That this simple gift would ever be enough. 


Though it was now my words, they still could not show the extent of my gratitude.
You are my parents; bringing me into this world, giving me kindness in plenitude,
You raised me, and so it is thanks to you
That I could write the very story I gave to you.


So though my words could never express the gratitude I feel.
I hope that they come close enough, closer than any stranger’s will.
Thank you, parents, for what you’ve done, and all you’ll ever do.
I hope you see that even my gratitude is all in thanks to you. 

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