Once upon a time in pencil school, a brave little red pencil set out to write an exciting story with nouns and adverbs and everything, but first she had to face the ravenous pencil sharpener, the Wolf 3000.
It’s fall. School is back and session, and school supplies are seen in stores, advertisements and backpacks everywhere. But really, how often do we pick up a pen or a pencil these days? Do we even consider the power it holds? After all, when most writing is done electronically, writing with a pen or pencil can seem a bit mundane. But these simple everyday tools can bring out some truly creative ideas. Here’s something to try: instead of tapping out your thoughts on a keyboard, try slowing down and letting your imagination run free with a pen or pencil in hand. Maybe doodle in the margins of the paper or create illustrations as you go, allowing the tool in your hand to help tell a tale. Adding a colorful pen, pencil or marker is inspirational too. Just put that red, green or purple ink to work and suddenly everything you write looks intriguing! To foster creative thinking in children, why not encourage them to get back to the basics, by setting aside the keyboard and creating a story the old-fashioned way? There are several picture books for elementary school age kids that can make those hand-held writing instruments, as well as school writing assignments, exciting again.
Children’s authors and illustrators often craft tales that show the process of writing and drawing a picture book. And when children’s authors write about their work, the stories usually show how their pen or pencil helps to shape the result. One of my favorite books of this type is a beautifully drawn tribute to an artist’s black fountain pen. Detailed black and white illustrations bring the author’s sketchbook to life, providing the reader with an inside view of the creative process and providing plenty of inspiration for independent storytelling activities. Other authors also make the writing instruments principal characters of their story. For example, a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, set in Pencil School, is witty and fun to read, with plenty of clever wordplay. In this particular version of the tale, a brave Little Red pencil must outwit the the fierce Wolf 3000 pencil sharpener while writing her own story. Another humorous book reveals what happens when a red pen used for grading school papers falls into the teacher’s wastebasket. The other supplies frantically attempt to accomplish the task, while learning to appreciate the value of others as well. These books can be fun to retell with actual pens, staplers and paper clips, for those who feel theatrically inclined. I’d recommend gathering up some of those items when you sit down to read! So why not encourage a child to go wild with their school supplies? All he or she needs is one of these great books, some basic writing materials, and lots of imagination!