I care deeply about all children. Yesterday I mentioned that I’m not a parent or a teacher, but today I’d like to mention that as someone who cares deeply about children, I still have strong ideas about how to raise and teach them. That’s one of the reasons I want to be a children’s author. That’s also why I’d like to share these thoughts with people who have more experience with children than I do and see what their thoughts are. If you are a parent or a teacher, please tell me your thoughts. If you’re not a parent or teacher, please still tell me your thoughts, because I’d like to hear from everybody!
Yesterday I talked about one of the reasons secrets can be problematic for children, which is that children often treat secrets as a form of passing the torch. Another reason is that secrets can be scary. I think most children get scared when someone tells them not to repeat something to anyone else. This is true even when there is nothing scary about the secret itself. If somebody tells a child not to tell somebody something, whether it’s another child or an adult, chances are the child will get scared. A little bit of getting scared is okay for a child, as long as it’s the right kind. When I say the right kind, I’m talking about scary things in movies, books, TV shows, and of course on Halloween. Fear of keeping a secret is the wrong kind of getting scared for a child, one that should be avoided. That’s why adults should never tell children to keep secrets. It’s also why a very important part of stranger danger is teaching children not to keep secrets from their parents, especially if someone tells them to. I would even argue that this is why children should be discouraged from telling each other secrets. How parents and teachers can prevent this is difficult to suggest. My best advice is to tell a child that if another child tells him or her to keep a secret, he/she should be honest with the other child and say he/she can’t keep a secret. This would allow the child wanting to tell the secret to decide whether or not he/she wants to tell his/her friend something he/she may want to keep private.
This is today’s writing exercise response. It was inspired by a freewrite on the word “secrets,” which in turn is one of many prompts suggested by “Story Sparkers: A Creativity Guide for Children’s Writers” by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones, authors of the popular Bailey School Kids’ Club series. This is Part 1, and I will post Part 2 tomorrow.
This response has some of the same sentiment as yesterday’s post about a TV free childhood. It talks about both oral storytelling and what I feel is important in raising and teaching children, oral storytelling being one of those things. I am not a parent or a teacher, so these views could be completely wrong in the eyes of people who have more experience with children. I’d understand if that’s the case, and I’m encouraging parents and teachers to tell me their thoughts on this post and the “TV Free Childhood” post. I look forward to seeing their responses as well as anyone else’s.
I believe secrets should not be as common as they currently are among children. Secrets can be very problematic, especially since they are hard to keep. Most children want to tell a secret as soon as someone else tells them one. Maybe this is because they think of secrets as a game of telephone, or as a form of passing the torch. After all, there are many instances where children are encouraged to pass on what they are given to someone else. Think about those days in preschool, when you were asked to pass a special toy around and look at it. Or how about when people tell each other stories? When you hear a good story, you tell it to someone else. In olden times, that was how stories got spread around and changed, an important thing to remember when teaching children the joys of old-fashioned storytelling. Another thing children are encouraged to this with is advice. When someone gives a child good advice, they are encouraged to tell someone else the same thing. Many children do this on their own. That’s why you’ll see children teaching their baby dolls how to go potty, or telling them not to spit. They may also try to teach their younger siblings things they learned in school, and maybe sometimes read them books their have parents read to them. These are all forms of passing the torch, and children are big fans of it. I think that’s one reason children like to tell secrets and thus shouldn’t be trusted with them.
This is a response to an exercise that can be found at http://www.build-creative-writing-ideas.com/free-creative-writing-prompts-technology.html. It is Technology Exercise #2.
If television and movies were never invented, my family and I would have spent the evenings of my childhood telling stories, reading books, playing make believe games, and sometimes going to the theater. We did all of those already, so this would not have changed our family dynamic that much. What would have changed our family dynamic is putting on shows for each other; puppet shows and one or two person shows. That would have made us more open and comfortable about interacting with each other. This is probably wishful thinking; it was not because of TV that my parents divorced, but anything that helps with open communication would have at least made them more likely to stay together. That’s part of the reason I think activities like this are important for families today, even, and perhaps especially, with movies and TV.
This is a response to an exercise that can be found at http://www.build-creative-writing-ideas.com/free-creative-writing-prompts-spring.html. It is Bryan Cohen’s Spring exercise #5.
In a meadow with green everywhere and occasional splashes of brightly colored flowers, I close my eyes and breathe in. Rebirth goes through my mind. Renewal goes through my mind. New beginnings go through my mind. Purification goes through my mind.Pale green is the color I see most with my eyes open. It is the color of Spring; the color of rebirth, renewal, and new beginnings. As I said, all the other colors come in splashes. Splashes of clear, purifying rainwater; rainwater that cleans away all the messes left behind by the last three seasons, rainwater that sometimes leaves a rainbow in the sky, adding more splashes of color. Spring is not the season, however, where there is a rainbow all the time. That would be autumn. Spring is pale green, with splashes of clear water and rainbows made by the rain, the sunlight, and of course the flowers.
This is a response to an exercise that can be found at http://www.build-creative-writing-ideas.com/free-creative-writing-prompts-science-fiction.html. It is Bryan Cohen’s Science Fiction Exercise #3. As my response touches upon briefly, I got the idea while brainstorming futuristic fairy tale retellings.
In a world greatly enhanced by new technologies, which are being developed every day, I have come up with a world-changing device. It is a strengthening machine that can make any given material suitable for architecture. This device would change life as we know it because it would allow us to use all our trash to build houses out of, thus making landfills unnecessary. It would also allow us to spend less money as well as less non-renewable resources on building our houses. We can even build houses out of food, an idea I got from “Hansel and Gretel.” Some of the newer versions of this device even have mechanisms that keep food edible in making it strong building material. These versions of my device can be used to make rotten food fresh again as well as keep food fresh. In this way, my device can also help end world hunger.
This exercise is from 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas For Blogs, Scripts, Stories, and More, also by Bryan Cohen. If you would like to try this exercise, it is Exercise #376, on page 99 of the book in the “Life” section. Again, Bryan Cohen’s web address is http://www.buildcreativewritingideas.com. As before, please feel free to share links to your responses in the comments. Here is my response:
When was I here before? I know I was! I feel that way about most things. I know I’ve seen Mom many times, and that makes me happy. Not this place. This place is scary. Strange people keep taking me from Mom, tearing my clothes off, and putting strange, cold things on my body. Sometimes they even stick things into me! I cry out for Mom, and I hear her voice, but she won’t hold me. Why? She always has before! Why won’t she save me from this place? She saved me from the other place like this! Why not this time? Is this the same place I remember?
Today’s writing prompt I got from 1,000 Character Writing Prompts: Villains, Heroes, and Hams For Scripts, Stories, and More by Bryan Cohen. For those of you who would like to try the exercise, it is Exercise #498 on page 153. You can also visit Bryan Cohen’s web site at http://www.buildcreativewritingideas.com. If you would like to share your responses, please feel free to post links to them in comments. Here are my two responses:
The most popular movie starlet of her time had a difficult childhood she doesn’t want anyone to know about. When she was in the first grade, her horrible teacher abused her terribly and told her that if she ever met with good fortune, it would come back to haunt her. This is why she gets nervous when talking about herself and laughs through interviews. In these interviews, she always thanks her parents and even her teachers, glossing over the terrible teacher she had in first grade. She also doesn’t like being talked about in the media, because part of her feels that by not telling this secret about her abusive teacher she’s lying.
The most popular movie star of her time is so talented at believably depicting characters, she never had to work much at developing her skills. Her great talent is very mysterious, and no one truly understands it, least of all her. What she does understand, though, is that her wonderful performances are not completely her doing, since she doesn’t have to try very hard. That’s why she doesn’t much like being talked about in the media, because she doesn’t feel she’s earned it. It’s also why she’s nervous when talking about herself and laughs during interviews. But she’s about to find out more about her mysterious talent…