By Felicity LuHill
May 19, 2017
Last week, I attended the spring semester reading for WriteOn, a non-profit that “connects passionate writing teachers with underserved school children.” The teachers are second year Creative Writing MFA Candidates at The New School and the students are fourth through eighth graders from George Jackson Academy, an independent, need-blind school for boys of low-income families based in the East Village.
Throughout the course of the semester, the program meets after school, where these boys are taught contemporary teen literature and the tools to write. After creating their own work they get to read their writing out loud to their families and to members of The New School community.
It was incredibly inspiring to see these boys read out loud what they had written. Some had written poetry, while others had written science fiction and thriller. One student even had a drawing to go with his work. They were all so smart and creative; I was truly impressed.
In all of their writing, I could sense the joy they attained from expanding their creativity in this way. I love this program because I think it’s rare that kids of this age group have the chance to write creatively, or be exposed to contemporary literature in this way. It wasn’t until my sophomore year in college that I really had the chance to write beyond the traditional essay. By then it’s often too late.
We’re taught early and often that reading and writing are chores, necessary evils for education. And it’s for this reason that so many of us get turned off from it. I know far too many adults who can’t remember the last time they’ve read for pleasure, or who think writing something as short as an email is burdensome. It’s because we’re trained to think reading and writing in any capacity could never be fun or easy.
At Barbershop Books, our goal is to show kids, at an even earlier age, that reading can be fun, and I’m happy to see another program that’s in a similar head space. I look forward to seeing the lasting impressions programs such as ours have in allowing kids to grow in reading and writing outside of school.