I volunteered recently with Southwark Libraries to do some creative writing and story workshops at the Blue Anchor Library.
Blue Anchor Library is small and cosy and not far from where I live. It has a newly refurbished building and staff who are committed to literacy and reading. For a library this size, it has an array of events that are suitable for the community they serve.
Today was the first workshop and as an ode to the Mythical Monsters Summer Reading Challenge, my story workshop was to help the kids write an Anansi story of their own.
Not sure lot of parents were thinking about workshops for this week as it was term start – but the valiant librarians encouraged the children reading and finishing up homework (new term after all) to come and participate.
Two girls who came early and sat and read the Anansi books that the librarian had put out for the event. Then two sisters who had done their homework wanted to join. Then another boy who came to the event seeing the poster. So we had a good group to start us off.
We started off with an Anansi story – I told the story of How Anansi got the box of Stories and realized many visitors were keenly listening to it too. I could see parents hovering by the video section that was closest to the workshop space and listening.
A boy who was doing homework took off his headphones and turned around, but he was too shy to come down and actually participate.
After I told the story, we analysed it. We figured out jointly the structure of an Anansi story. Then I read them a story that I had written a few years ago at Jane Yolen’s workshop – an original trickster tale about Anansi, not from Anansi’s box of stories.
The kids then analysed the story I had written and matched the structure. Now they were ready to create their own. By this time, we had lost two of the participants as their ride had come early.
But the other three were undeterred. They had three different plots and we discussed each plot. By the end of the plotting, we jointly decided one plot wasn’t going to work. Then the children started writing their own stories with it.
I could see the enthusiasm in their eyes. They weren’t shouting and jumping about with joy – but they were seriously working on their stories. I had three converts on my hands – kids who wanted to write stories and read more.
The parents were absolutely thrilled that the kids had sat down and written a story. Other parents came to ask if there was another session. So all in all a good workshop. I always think – if I can I instill the joy of stories and writing in one kid – that’s reward enough for each event I do.