#50PreciousWordsforKids – Where Kids Become the Storytellers

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Last month, I hosted a challenge for writers. I invited them to create a story for children in 50 words or less. #50PreciousWords drew hundreds of participants. What amazed me was the incredible creativity that was unleashed by the restrictive word limit.

MAGIC HAPPENS WHEN YOU MAKE EVERY WORD COUNT!

One of the participants told me that she and her six-year old daughter had an amazing bonding experience. Seeing her mom writing, the little girl wanted to write a story also. And she did. And her mom shared it with me.

DINOSAUR SNOW by Bethany (age 6)

It snowed a lot through the day. Pteranodon and her sister Teethless were bored. Pteranodon said, “I planned to go outside and it’s almost time for lunch. Oh it’s 11:00. Let’s go wake Mom and Dad.” “You’re right,” said Teethless. So they did. And then they ate lunch.

Then my eight-year old grandson spent a day with me and he wanted to write one, too.

LOCKED OUT by Jeremy (age 8)

One evening, when me and my mom got home from school, we tried to unlock our door. We heard a snap. Our house key broke! We went to our neighbors for help. They said, “Get a ladder and climb into a window.” We followed their advice. Unlocked the door. Home!

Those two stories got me excited! I’m a retired kindergarten teacher. My debut picture book will launch next year. My book for parents and teachers, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, recommends 100 picture books and provides hundered of activities to extend the reading experience. I’ve always been on a mission to help kids become lovers of books and reading. What a thrill if I could encourage them to become their own storytellers!

I decided to create a writing challenge for children!

An ALL-INCLUSIVE INTERNATIONAL ONE!

#50PreciousWordsforKids will coincide with Children’s Book Week, May 1-7. Every child in grades K-6 is invited to participate. Teachers will have each child write a story of 50 words or less…then the teacher and/or class will choose one story to submit. Parents who homeschool their children can submit one story per child.

Here are the guidelines.

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I’m asking all of you who have connections with elementary schools or homeschooling families in any state and any country to please spread the word. Last month, I contacted the Children’s Book Council and they agree – it’s a perfect activity for Children’s Book Week.

The challenge runs May 1-7 and the stories need to be emailed to me: viviankirkfield@gmail.com by 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, May 7th. I’ll post those stories on Thursday, May 11th. Teachers and parents will receive a certificate that can be copied and personalized with the name of each child who participated. And there will be seven mini-Skype author classroom visits randomly awarded—one per grade.

I’m grateful to talented artist Vicky Fang who designed the perfect logo. And to Deborah Weed, Jennifer Petersen, and my daughter, Caroline, who all helped put the flyer together. It takes a village.

And it takes a village to help kids stretch and grow their imaginations.

I’m excited to read all of their precious words.

PPBF: Brave Girl PLUS 50 Precious Words Contest

Are you ready for something fun, my friends?

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday, so you know we are going to have a review of a great picture book. Plus, because this is Women’s History Month, I’ve chosen a book that celebrates an important Mighty Girl in American history, Clara Lemlich.

But first I want to tell you about a mini-contest. Wednesday was the birthday of the incredible Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. One of his books actually came about because of a bet he made with Bennett Cerf, one of the publishing giants of Random House. Cerf challenged Seuss to write a children’s book using only 50 words. And the classic Green Eggs and Ham was born. It’s true that the story has over 700 words…but only 50 unique words.

If you are currently writing picure books…or just reading them, you’ll notice that the average word length is getting shorter and shorter. So I thought, wouldn’t that be a great challenge…to write a story for kids with only 50 words. With a beginning, a middle, and an end. I wondered if I could do it. And I decided to open the challenge to everyone. Here are the guidelines:

50 PRECIOUS WORDS WRITING CONTEST

  1. Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words…they can all be different words, or you can use some of them over and over…just as long as the total word count for the story is 50 or less.
  2. It can be prose, rhyme, free verse, silly or serious…whatever works for you.
  3. Title is not included in the word count.
  4. No illustration notes please.
  5. Post the story on your blog if you have one and put the link in the comments OR post the story in the comments.
  6. Deadline for posting the story or the link in the comments is Friday, March 18th…that gives you two weeks.
  7. Winners will be announced on Saturday, March 19th, in our Will Write for Cookies post.
  8. Prizes? Of course! In honor of Women’s History Month, a copy of Miss Moore Thought Otherwise by Jan Pinborough. And we’ll see what else I can figure out.
  9. This just in!!!! Kristen Fulton is donating a seat in her April Nonfiction Archaeology class. Just to let you all know…I took her class in June 2014..and that was the step that led me down this path of writing nonfiction picture books. I wrote Sweet Dreams, Sarah the month after the class ended. And I’ve been writing nonfiction picture books ever since!
  10. I’m also going to offer a mini-critique of a picture book manuscript…hopefully, after years of writing, revising, and critiquing, my feedback will be helpful.
  11. Plus, I have a soft spot for mini-books…you know, those tiny books you can hold in the palm of your hand. It’s time to share a couple from my collection.
  12. Stop the presses!!!!! Another GREAT PRIZE has just been donated! My fabulous agent, Essie White, is going to give a critique to one of the winners! Thank you so much, Essie! This contest is shaping up to be so much more than I had ever expected. Thank you so everyone who is posting about it and sharing on Facebook and Twitter!
  13. Hurray…another great prize!!!! Next Saturday, as I mentioned, when I announce the winners, I’ll also be interviewing debut picture book author, Nancy Churnin. So I am adding a shiny new copy of her book, “The William Hoy Story” to the prize pool…woo-hoo!

I’ve been participating in Carrie Charley Brown’s ReFoReMo Challenge. The list of recommended picture books was astounding. Fortunately, my local library is able to get most of the books I request. Plus, they don’t have a limit on the number of books you can take out. One of my favorites so far is the story of the girl who led the fight for better conditions for workers in the garment industry. And I thought it was a stellar book to spotlight during Women’s History Month.

brave girl

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909

Written by Michelle Market

Illustrated by Melissa Sweet Continue reading