August 12, 2008

Daily Blog 12: Budding Writers

My first visit to a group of Girl Scouts in E. Troy, Wisc. has made me a believer in Scouting.

Yes, I was a Brownie and did my stint in Girl Scouts growing up in Chicago. I don't remember much beyond a fuzzy recollection of a talent show and my singing Herman's Hermits' "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter." (I don't know why, though I do still like the song a little.)

I was impressed to find 16 middle grade girls, excited to meet a writer and talk books. When I asked who wrote stories, nearly all raised their hand. When I asked who read, again, the response was overwhelming.

After some questions and comments, we talked out a potential mystery story. It was interesting to get their take on ideas, despite their love for talking animals. :>)

Funny thing is when they asked about other books I was working on after Searching For A Starry Night, I mentioned my adult mystery set in an old vaudeville theater. Blank stares. They had no idea what vaudeville was, or even who George Burns was. Even if it's super-ancient to them, I found that surprising that no one recognized him, either, and a bit sad. (I'll be continuing this thought in tomorrow's post.)

We met for nearly two hours, which was probably a bit long as by the end they were getting a bit bored and antsy, so I'd probably do something different next time, though I'm not sure what. Any suggestions?

Despite the moaning you hear in the industry and online about people or kids not reading, that's not what I witnessed. These girls loved to read. They read more than one book a week (several even!) and read in different genres. They loved to write, too. Who knows if the next Eudora Welty or Debbie Macomber may come out of this group?

So, don't despair. Readers are out there.


  1. Oh, Eudora Welty. I love her! Thanks, Chris, for mentioning that dear spirit. What inspiration to us any age.

    Diana Black

  2. I think it's great that girls still love to read. And I'm glad both you and the girls had fun.

    How about having them write their own mystery? I've taught How to Write a Mystery classes for branches of the Austin library and the kids can have a completed mystery done in about three sessions. They have a good time "learning" the structure and come out with some interesting stories.

  3. Good to hear that talking animals are still popular. LOL. I'd heard at a conference that, as far as publishers/agents are concerned, talking animals are "so over!"

    Guess they haven't communicated with the actual readers.

    Thanks to your inspiration, I'm going to make another effort to connect to the Girl Scouts organization.

    Wish I had some recommendations for you, but I'm not surprised they didn't know who George Burns was. Kids today don't know Barney Fife and have never seen episodes of Andy Griffith or Dick Van Dyke.

  4. My teenage daughter and her friends all read! There is room for a lot of hope.

  5. What a great experience--for you and the girls! I'd have never thought of speaking to Girl Scouts.

  6. My experience (15 years in child care and teaching industry) tells me that it isn't so much that kids aren't reader or hate reading, it's that they hate reading books they are being forced to read, and therefore aren't reading as much because they don't get to pick.

    I love the library's summer reading program because the kids get to pick what they read and then get credit for it. The way to allow a kid to enjoy reading is to let them be independent.

    Karen Syed

  7. That was an inspiring and encouraging post. Cool experience! Thank you for helping to bolster those of our youth who love to read!

  8. One of the reasons I love J.K. Rowlings is she's helped spark a new generation of readers among kids who didn't read before...and yes, there are still kids out there who have been taught the love of reading from a young age.


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