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Life Story Writing for Kids

"Am I in the story Gramma?" That's the first question any of my thirteen grandchildren ask when they see me at the computer, or when I get "Tidbits of Time" out at night to read them a true bedtime story from it.

We all want to be center stage!

If we are read to as a young child, we are more cognizant of the importance of the main character. Especially if we identify with that character. It's great fun to be in Gramma's story, but how much more fun, if the child writes a story in which they are that main character. It gives them that wonderful feeling of being somebody special.

My very first recollection of writing a story was coming back to school after summer vacation and my third grade teacher asked us to write about what we did that summer.

As if it was yesterday I remember I wrote about a week at Camp Comfort, up in the mountains of Ventura County. I'm seventy now, but because I wrote about that event the details are sharp and clear in my mind. I recorded it for posterity. It is forever etched in the recesses of my brain, to be re-called into any time or space. That week gave me a lifelong love for camping, exploring and tasting the great outdoors.

The sights and smells still linger. An open campfire, marshmallow's roasting on a wire clothes-hanger. The smell of coffee brewing in the morning and the sizzle of bacon frying in a big, black iron skillet. These sights and sounds are, for the most part, lost to this generation where we use microwave ovens and Mr. Coffee.

When a child writes about themselves and their family, it gives them great feelings of pride and a sense of value. Their self-esteem goes up. I am important. I am loved. I am cared for. Or ... I was bad and I was sorry. Or, my dog loved me unconditionally. It's not important what it's about, but that it is about them. It is the story of their life and they are unique.

The simple, unpretentious writing of a child is similar to the teaching in Life Story Writing Classes, in that we write off the top of our heads just to get the story out. We can deal with re-write, spelling and grammar at a later time, but it's important to write the memory while it's tweaking around in our heads.

No matter what age a writer is, a story has a beginning, a middle and an end. That's simple enough for a child to understand and the sooner they begin writing their memories, the longer they will have them.

I tell my Grands to "Write on!" ... they just think I'm cool saying "Right on!" But they've gotten the message over time, and they know there is a section in my life story book "Tidbits of Time" that is especially set aside for their stories. I call that chapter, " ... And the Beat Goes On".

Leaves don't fall far from the tree. What you model before your children, is usually what they do. Let them know the importance to your family of Life Story Writing by doing it yourself. It doesn't have to be perfect, it doesn't have to be structured, it doesn't have to be great. Just do it!

Before you know it, they will want to write their own stories and every family is richer for that!

After all, some of Gramma's DNA is in the Grands, and like the child in me…still squirming around in her seat, waving her hand at the teacher, wanting to be heard…I do it with stories about the family!

Life story writing is a child's opportunity to be heard!

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