As a writer, I get asked often how to get kids excited about writing. When I go into schools to talk about books and stories, I find kids who are excited about stories and sharing their ideas, and I also find kids who are intimidated by the written word.
I have four children under the age of nine, so I know what it’s like to try an activity with them and for it all to go sideways. My advice to help get your kids writing is to try your best not to put too much pressure on your kids (or yourself) with this activity. Sometimes kids love to write, but sometimes kids prefer to draw their answers, or just talk to you about their ideas. To get them excited about storytelling and creating characters is key.
My other advice when it comes to writing with kids? If one of the writing/storytelling prompts below doesn’t work for your family, leave it, and if one really takes off, go with it. If your kids want to work on a silly story, then let that happen. My favourite story by my five-year-old starts: Once, there was a Once… This opening makes us giggle every time we begin a new story with it.
And finally, I’d say that kids can’t get this wrong—so let them lead the way. I think sometimes we writers think the first draft we put onto the page has to be absolutely perfect. But I spend way more time rewriting than I do actually writing—my new book, Polly Diamond and the Magic Book (a story about a girl who discovers a magic book that makes everything she writes in it come true), took at least a hundred drafts before it was perfect. I like rewriting (most of the time) because it helps me make the story stronger. And this isn’t a school assignment—it’s a way to have fun with stories and with characters.
So, here are five writing prompts about characters to get you and your family excited about writing. I hope you enjoy these.
5 Fun, Easy Writing Prompts to Inspire Kids to Write
1: Choose one of these people and write about where they are going…
2: Pick a character. You can use the photos or you can use one of your own characters. Your character is on a ship. It is sinking. What do they do?
3: Pick a character. You can use the photos or you can use one of your own characters. Your character is at the zoo. They hear screaming. What do they do?
4: Write a diary entry by your character for today.
5: Draw a picture of your character in their favourite place. Write about your character and something that happens to them in this place.
If you’ve tried some of the prompts, and you want to do more writing together, come and find me online here. I’ve made a free online free writing course for children ages 6-10, and in it I share my love of writing, and lots of videos and prompts to inspire—hopefully—even reluctant writers.
And let me know how writing with your kids go by sharing photos with me on Instagram @alicekuiperswritingprompts
Alice Kuipers is the author of four novels and a picture book in addition to Polly Diamond, an early reader chapter book. Kuiper’s novels have been nominated or won various awards including the Saskatchewan First Book Award, the Carnegie Medal, the White Pine Award, and the Grand Prix de Viarmes Award. Born in England, she currently lives in Saskatoon with husband Yann Martel and their four children. Find here online at alicekuipers.com