NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program is a website where kids can go for encouragement, training, and advice on how to complete a novel in 30 days. Set up as a contest, the only requirement for winning is fulfillment of a word count (which your kid will choose at the beginning, depending on age and writing level). The social aspect of the site is really well monitored, and kids will primarily use the forums and in-site email to discuss their works-in-progress and other literary goodies.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
Thinking & Reasoning
- making conclusions
- producing new content
- achieving goals
- work to achieve goals
- moving beyond obstacles
- conveying messages effectively
- friendship building
- multiple forms of expression
Engagement, Approach, Support
Once teens get started, they'll get sucked into the challenge immediately. If they're already strong writers, great, but even non-writers should have fun trying. The site's interface is cute and clean.
The main focus? Simply letting the words flow. But there are many resources kids can use to improve quality and structure. They're also learning to be "real writers" with a process that can transfer to future projects.
An extensive FAQ and the Resources tab answer most questions kids could have. While the site doesn't host kids' full novels, it does show progress toward the final goal, as well as past years' activity.
What's it about?
In this kid version of the National Novel Writing Month program, young writers accept the challenge to complete a novel between Nov. 1 and 30. It's a contest, but everyone who finishes wins. Kids choose their word count at the beginning, write their novel in a notebook or offline word processing program, then update their word count online throughout the month. Kids can share their ideas and questions in the forums and can fill out a profile and share excerpts of their novel-in-progress with Writing Buddies (fellow young writers).
Is it any good?
Taking their successful grown-up writing contest and adjusting for kid success, NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program is wildly engaging and brimming with advice and encouragement. The front page features fun writing activities that can be pursued within a novel or on their own, including the Dare Machine, a prompt creator that dares kids to complete tasks like "Make one of your characters fall in love with the villain." Turning the huge task of writing a novel -- something that even most adults are intimidated by -- into a fun and doable challenge really works here. The folks behind NaNoWriMo are writers who understand the process and break it down beautifully for kids.
NaNoWriMo's concept of "winning" is outstanding: if you finish what you started, you've won! Kids also get to display a winner's badge on their page after verifying their word count.
Families can talk about...
There's a NaNoWriMo for adults too; why not have all your family members start a novel in November? Families can support each other through the process, have weekly check-ins or readings, and celebrate the completion of novels at the end of the month.
If your kid is particularly proud of what they've accomplished (and they should be!), you can publish a copy of their book inexpensively through sites like Lulu, or simply print it out and have your kid illustrate a cover.