Every November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), an Internet-based creative writing project which challenges participants to write a novel consisting of 50,000 words between November 1st and November 30th. In past years, people from all walks of life and from across the globe have accepted this monumental challenge. Without a doubt, NaNoWriMo is difficult to complete—in 2011 there were more than 250,000 participants, but fewer than 37,000 reached the 50,000 goal.
In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, the Young Authors Series in Syracuse, N.Y. encourages students to write their own stories. The young authors are not restricted to the NaNoWriMo requirements, but they endure many of the same joys that novelists experience during the creative writing process.
As part of Say Yes Syracuse’s extended day and year programming, the Young Authors Series is an exciting collaboration between students in the Syracuse City School District (SCSD) and college students at Syracuse University (SU). Elementary and middle school students write stories about a wide range of topics, and the college students provide illustrations. With the help of a generous grant from the National Grid Foundation, the finished products are then produced and published as professional books. Approximately 85 SCSD students will release five new books as part of the program during the 2012-13 school year.
This program helps develop the writing and reading skills of the children, while also teaching them about the book publishing process. The young authors are encouraged to use their imaginations to create stories about issues that interest them and are relevant to their communities.
For example, a previous book investigated where fresh fruits and vegetables come from. Say Yes and SCSD sponsored a field trip to a local organic farm where students learned about sustainable agriculture and organic food production. The findings were then published in the book, “After-School Adventures.”
For SU’s illustration students, having their work in a professionally produced book offers significant exposure in local schools, bookshops, coffee houses, libraries, fairs and public events.
The program is a true collaboration that brings together community, scholarship and creativity. It is also a testament to the positive impact that Say Yes has on local communities.