Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday (which follows a stream of goofily titled days–Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday–designed to get us spending money after Thanksgiving). I actually like Giving Tuesday, though, as a time to reflect on meaningful ways to give that don’t involve money.
For those of us who write for kids, probably one of the most delightful ways to give is by working directly with young people and their writing. This might involve a one-time project or an ongoing weekly or monthly commitment. Many writers approach local schools, after-school programs, and public libraries and offer to teach workshops or organize contests or readings. I’d love to hear from you and what you might be doing or planning to do.
This past year, I had a wonderful experience through which I received so much more than I gave. I volunteered as one of the judges for the middle-school contest of the Library of Congress’s annual Letters about Literature program <http://www.read.gov/letters/> Young people in grades 4-12 submitted letters that they wrote to the author (living or dead) of a book that affected them deeply. (Youngsters submit first at the state level, and then those winners are automatically considered for prizes at the national level. The link can connect you to volunteer opportunities through your state.)
And to hear the winners read their letters at the awards ceremony! To be in the presence of a new generation of writers and to witness their dedication, skill, and passion for the written word–okay, that was pretty amazing! Ife Calhoun, the winner of Washington, DC’s middle-school contest, eloquently described how the authors of The Pact helped her to hold fast to her own dreams of medical school. It’s a book she re-reads, she says, and tries to share with others at her school.
Thank you to Ife and other young people who are already inspiring others through their words and example.