Tweens Rise to the Occasion

Ballroom at Tween ABC

For the last six years, a group of authors I work with have held a writing conference for teenagers (ages 13 to 19) called Teen Author Boot Camp.  It is a daylong event and often we have people ask us how we dare spend 8 hours with a bunch of crazy teenagers. Yet we have never had a problem (and we’ve had as many as 750 teens at TABC). I fact, I’ve met teens  who I consider genuine friends and fellow authors.

This year, I felt the desire to put on a writing conference just for tweens (ages 9 to 12). I had a couple of people tell me I was absolutely insane—what with all of the ADHD, bullying, lack of respect, and such. After some of the feedback, I started to worry a bit as well.

dogtagLast night we held the first ever Tween Author Boot Camp. Almost 250 kids came to a conference for nearly five hours to learn how to write better. And guess what? They sat in their chairs. They listened. They took notes. They asked a very intelligent questions, and they gave brilliant answers.

I was impressed!

The kids did just as well as the teenagers in paying attention. The authors who taught were lively, and the classes lasted only 25 minutes instead of 40. The evening went by quickly.

Granted, the “Lost and Found” was HUGE, but other than the tweens were outstanding students. With all that goes on in America and in the school system and in society, we tend to think that kids are headed on a downhill spiral. In reality, we have some amazingly intelligent young people in our society.

Lois Class at Tween ABCKudos to these parents who are raising such bright young minds. My favorite part of the evening came during teaching my class called “idea invention.” I showed the kids a picture of a man in a kayak with the darkened image of a large shark looming in the water about 20 feet away. I then asked the kids to pose a question using “what if?” The kids came up with a lot of great “what if” questions:

  • What if the shark eats the man?
  • What if the man survives the shark attack?
  • What if the shark is the man’s best friend?

But the one I loved the most, the one that I thought a New York Times best-selling author could easily write a book about, was the answer from a 10-year-old kid who said, “What if the image of the shark is really just the man’s shadow?”

Wow! Doesn’t that sound like an intriguing novel?


11 thoughts on “Tweens Rise to the Occasion

  1. WOW! You’re not kidding on that last “what if” question from the kid! And you’re also not kidding about the potential for kids to be brilliant students. My doctor once told me that he suspected a lot of ADHD was really BSS (boring school syndrome). While I don’t discount the reality of ADHD (my daughter has it), I’ve seen that the quality of teaching and the engagement level makes a big difference in what kids can do.

    Kudos to you for encouraging the best in these kids! THIS IS SO AWESOME!!!

  2. This is a great post for everybody in the writing process–newbies to highly successful. Every person was once a kid and I think it is supremely important to encourage young writers. A lot of the authors I know have been writing since they were teens–and I’m meeting younger writers all the time.

    I’m grateful there are conferences dedicated to encourage future authors at younger ages. These events can be game-changers for self image (uber important for tweens who are at the perfect age to really explore their interests and talents).

  3. I had been wondering how this was going. Glad to hear it came off with flying colors! You were probably drawing from the best of the best, kids with involved and supportive parents and a measure of ambition. Still, kids are amazing. Kudos for putting this together. I’m sure these young authors will never forget their experience. Who knows? We may be purchasing their books in another 15 years.

  4. How wonderful!! So inspiring, and certainly shows how many kids out there love books and the art of writing 🙂

  5. Kudos on such an inspiring post, Lois! It’s awesome to see tweens into writing these days. You never know, have may have had a hand in carving a future ‘JK Rowling’ or ‘Rick Riordan’. Cheers!

  6. This is fantastic. Kudos to you! I wish someone had done workshops like this when I was that age. Great for the kids and fun for the adult authors. Keep encouraging young authors!

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