When I was in 2nd grade I was tested and diagnosed with dyslexia. For many months I felt like I couldn’t keep up with the rest of my class, and finally my parents had some answers. Because of this, I qualified for the RSP program at my school and three times a week I had to leave my regular class to do my school work in another room with a Special Ed aid. As a seven year old, I didn’t fully understand why I was being asked to work differently, but it definitely made me feel isolated. I learned very early on how to joke with my friends at school and be self deprecating about my situation. Part of the program was reading and writing. A lot of reading and writing. Late into 4th grade, my RSP teacher, Mrs. Jones told me that she was going to publish one of my stories in our library. I remember working on my story and the artwork for weeks. Figuring out where I wanted the words to be on the page and how big to draw my pictures. In May we turned in our stories and in June I got to see the final product.
The Dancing Book
There it was. “The Dancing Book” By Amber Queen, 4th grade. I held in my hand the hard backed, 8.5 by 11 book with my name on the cover and I felt so proud of myself. We took our books in and the librarian had even created my card for the card catalog and I was now a member of the Dewey Decimal System. As years went on I can remember going to the library just to visit my book. It lived on an end cap near the entrance with several other books written by students.
I didn’t fully realize how much power this moment had in my life until much later, but knowing that someone,an adult, found value in my story was powerful. So powerful that here I am today loving my job because I get to tell kids all over Southern California that their stories have value.
Knowing that someone, an adult, found value in my story was powerful.
Prof. George Land did a study regarding imagination/creativity by measuring abstract thought in children. Over the years these same children were tested.
Test results amongst 5 year olds: 98%
Test results amongst 10 year olds: 30%
Test results amongst 15 year olds: 12%
Same test given to 280,000 adults: 2%
This first drop off of 68% in abstract thought as it correlates with imagination and creativity is happening when children are still in elementary school.
Since the Recession in 2008, schools have had to cut back on their extra arts programs even more. Most of these programs now have to be funded by outside parent organizations. But there are over 4000 low income (also called Title 1) schools in California alone. These schools don’t have the access to funds for extra programs. They are no longer exposed to live music, theater, or dance without the help of outside funding. These expressions not only bring joy and creativity to a child’s school experience, but are becoming a necessity for college and job placement. The space to be creative in the classroom is not what it should be today.
Keeping Creativity in the Classroom
Writer’s Room Productions is a nonprofit dedicated to creating high quality arts education through the power of creative writing through a variety of programs. For fifteen years I have seen first hand the benefit of imagination in schools. Confidence comes out of being validated and encouraged. We ignite confidence AND creativity through creative writing.
Do you remember the story you wrote about your summer vacation in third grade? Or the one about your Imaginary Friend going on an adventure to Disneyland? Do you have children? Imagine the story they wrote for class this year… Now imagine that story coming to life on stage, in a room full of schoolmates and family cheering them on. Our Authors Showcase team of professional actors and musicians are inspired by the creative writing students are already doing in their classrooms. My story came to life in a book, and we’re now bringing stories to life through live theater!
As August of 2016 we have produced 98 student stories at 12 different schools and camps in and around Southern California. By June of 2017 we want to have produced 300 stories! In April we launched our Podcast series Story Rocket, featuring some of these stories that we have turned into podcast theater.
The end of the 2017 school year will mark two full seasons for our organization. Not only will these 300 stories have been showcased, but their family, friends, teachers and schoolmates will all be asking themselves the same question, “What Story Will I Tell?”
And now I ask you the question, “What story will you help tell?”
How You Can Help
- Check out ways you can support and donate.
- Subscribe to and share the Story Rocket Podcast.
- Connections: Do you know a school, camp or children’s hospital that could benefit from our programs? Or will you help us make even more connections in the entertainment industry? Contact us.
- Read more about Authors Planet, our Creative Writing Curriculum, and our partnership with Royal Family Kids Camp.