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Our Freedom to Read Contest Winners

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

book locked upFreedom to Read Week is nearly over, and as a final note, we wanted to share the winning entries in our writing contest. We are always impressed with the creativity and insight shown by the students, and this year, the choice was just as difficult as always. In the end, we chose two essays and a poem that we hope will make you reflect on this freedom that we all too often take for granted. Without further ado, here are the winning entries:

Freedom by Emily G.

Freedom. Seven ordinary letters come together to form an extraordinary word. It is something many of us in North America take for granted, but many people in other countries around the world will go to tremendous lengths to obtain freedom. Take for example the story of 15-year-old, Malala Yousafzai and her struggle for education. Anyone will tell you that the foundation of education is literacy, and literacy comes from reading.

Reading is not limited just to books however. All sorts of media fall under this category. Newspapers in particular have always been a very influential form of expression, especially during the American Revolution. Newspapers offered a platform to share ideas about politics and military strategies, and they were also a way to rebel against the government itself.

During the Second World War, the freedom to read was often challenged. Any book written by a Jew of an enemy of the Nazis was burned publicly, biasedly filtering the content that children learned. In Canada today, we have an enormous number of choices when it comes to what to read: Chaucer, Tolstoy, Lewis, and Rowling to name a few popular authors, and an endless array of different genres as well. If our freedom to choose the books we read was limited, our perception would narrow along with our entire understanding of literature and the world.

Although it may seem unrelated, picture for a moment your plate at the supper table. Roast beef, potatoes with gravy, and a fresh garden salad. Each of these foods and their respective groups are vital to a balanced diet and a healthy body. Take away any of these and you’ll become moody and lethargic. The same is true with literature; take away the variety and you are left with an entire nation ignorant of the broad spectrum of learning and the immense pleasure of reading. Take away our freedom, and you injure our minds.

A New Chapter: A New World by Rachel H.

Every swish of a flipping page welcomes a fresh chapter of your life; a fresh chapter brimming with greater amounts of knowledge and a stronger understanding of the world around you than you had previously thought was obtainable. Literature is the word that plants the seeds of success and opens our eyes to the world, fostering a greater understanding of far away lands and cultures.

As stated in Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, “You will never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb inside his skin and walk around in it.” Literature provides the means to view the world through the eyes of the author and may provide information about other cultures which can build bonds between citizens around the globe. By allowing your mind to indulge in novels such as the Breadwinner Trilogy, you can truly comprehend the hardships endured by the citizens of war-torn countries. Instilling empathy into the citizens of the world by means of literature is the only way to establish peace among all of humanity.

Literature is the key that will open the door to world peace and understanding, yet governments and religious institutions around the globe still believe that it is appropriate to ban novels that are perceived to show political or cultural demerits. You must not hesitate to raise your voice against literacy bans because without the universal freedom to obtain any novel that we desire, how can we expect to truly understand each other and create worldwide harmony which will benefit us all?

Within Books by Jasmine Y.

Forward eleven years,
You might find a graveyard,
Burrowed in our mistakes,
Intense scientific nightmares,
Come adrift near our blackout,
Perhaps destiny has led us so,
But more-so, our questionable choices,
Slammed into a soulless shed.

Like the strong feet of the elephant,
Push into our selves,
Passive but stable,
There, concealed in our hearts,
Brave quotes that give life a boost,
Wise thoughts to shy away from doom.

As an infant,
So much stronger,
So fearless,
We march upon the bridge,
Connected to our inside world,
Only needing protection,
Against the outside world.

Without those creatures,
The parallel worlds of you and I,
The glorifying princes,
That await your arrival,
No doubt,
Would our minds be sucked,
Into an army of ten thousand men.

Can you feel my lungs?
Pounding with the liberation,
The colourful life we could give,
Planning a feast of words to the children,
Giving a stick to the frail,
Creating insight into another's mind,
And sharing our stories,
Woven into a thread of past.

Celebrate Freedom to Read Week with us!

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

Three great ways to celebrate Freedom to Read Week:

eleanor & park

1. Read Eleanor & Park (or any other challenged book)

This morning, members of the Calgary Freedom to Read Week Committee presented a copy of Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park to City Council as part of the official launch of Freedom to Read Week 2014. Eleanor & Park is a bestselling and award-winning novel about two teenage misfits falling in love in 1980s Omaha, and it was the centre of controversy in Minnesota this past summer when two parents objected to the book's use of language. The author's planned visit to the school was cancelled, and the ultra-conservative Parents Action League got involved, demanding that all copies of the book be removed from both the school and public libraries, and that the librarians who had chosen the book for the summer reading program be disciplined for choosing to offer this "inappropriate and profane" book (their words, not mine!). Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed.

2. Join us this Thursday at Owl's Nest Books

Every year, the Calgary Freedom to Read Week Committee recognizes the winners of our teen writing contest, and also presents the Freedom of Expression award to a Calgarian who exemplifies the fight for intellectual freedom. This year, they are presenting the award to local radio personality Dave Rutherford.

The celebration is at Owl's Nest Books (815A 49th Avenue SW, in the Britannia shopping plaza) on Thursday, February 27th, at 7 p.m.

3. Read the winning entries in our Freedom to Read Week writing contest!

The sad truth is, material for kids and teens is the most likely to be challenged, which makes YOU the victim of censorship. Every year CPL hosts a writing contest for local students, and as always, this year's winners impressed us with their responses.

Our 2014 winners are Jasmine Y., Rachel H., and Emily G., and we'll post their entries at the end of the week — so if you want to hear them earlier, you'll have to join us at Owl's Nest.

Great Graphix for 2014—Bleak, Bizarre and Beautiful continued

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

It may be a bit early to think of this year's Comic Con coming up in April however Camilla d'Errico's 2nd volume of Tanpopo is just hitting the stacks sooo... I thought it might be appropriate to highlight some great new and old additions to the fabulous Teen Graphix collection we have. Tanpopo is a 3 volume story of a girl raised by a machine-driven mind prison, who frees herself and goes on a journey of emotional and intellectual self discovery guided by a "boy" who is either a devil or trickster character or both. D'Erricco uses text from Goethe's "Faust"(and it is a Faustian journey that Tanpopo embarks on!!), Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio by Liaozhai Zhiyi.

Goethe started writing Faust when he was 19 and finished it a week before his death - how's that for the work of your life? Camilla uses the text and re-contextualizes it to create her own poetic story, complete with her sparse but beautiful comic illustrations all rendered with a fine point acrylic brush. Hailing from Vancouver d'Erricco has also published a YA graphic novel called Burn and several books of her art. One of which I just happened to get hand autographed with a drawing of her own when I met her at last year's Comic Con. (I'm sure she'll do the same for you if you go this year, nudge, nudge), she is, generous like that, and cool; hence me being so excited about her latest release. Did I mention that she snowboards and makes her art into designs for cell phone skins, laptops, snowboards, dresses, leggings, chairs, wallets, make-up cases and toys for the likes of Haysbor, Disney, Tokyopop, Neil Gaiman and the ilk. Her HelmetHeads paintings have a sweet pop sensibility to them. She's even published a book about how to emulate the same in your own comics. This could perhaps... hint, hint... be used as an inspiration to submit a comic of your own to our TeensCreate page, just sayin'....

Speaking of literary pop sensibilities; did you know that Frank L. Baum actually wrote not just 1 but 11 OZ novels? And not all starting in Kansas... Eric Shanower and artist Skottie Young have turned them into a series of great graphic novels for your eyes to enjoy. I think perhaps in an alternate universe D'Erricco's Tanpopo and Skottie Young's Dorothy and Ozma could all be sisters. The wonders of OZ never cease ;p

To conclude our brief but delectable journey, a great version of Faust has just been republished and acquired here at CPL. The illustrations by Harry Clarke hail from the Art Nouveau era (think Aubrey Beardsley) creating a visual feast that rivals the Steampunky details of d'Errico's HelmetHeads. So if you like Tanpopo you just might enjoy. Happy Reading!

 

The 5th Annual Prom Dress Extravaganza!

by Emily - 0 Comment(s)

Prom season is upon us again and the library wants to help you find the perfect dress for a memorable evening with your friends! Drop by our participating locations to browse the dresses we have and why not tell your friends so you can make a girls' day of it? There will be a number of talented, volunteer designers on hand to help you find the perfect fit, or feel free to bring a dress you already own and our volunteers will be happy to lend their expertise to resize or update it for you.

This event will be held at the following libraries:

Forest Lawn Library: Saturday, March 1, 1-3:30 p.m.

Southwood Library: Saturday, March 8, 2-5 p.m.

Village Square Library: Saturday, March 15, 1-3:30 p.m.

 

Even if your own prom is past, your party dress can still do some good — we are happy to accept donations of gently used formal wear at any library location!

Freedom to Read Contest

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

freedom to read week

Why is the freedom to read important to you?

Canada celebrates Freedom to Read Week every February, as a way of reminding ourselves to think about intellectual freedom, censorship, and our right to access the information that we choose. We often take it for granted that we can read whatever we like, but the truth is that every year, great books are challenged or banned across the world — and that includes Canada.

This year, Freedom to Read Week is February 23rd to March 1st, and as always, we're running a contest to help celebrate!

Tell us why the freedom to read is important to you using words, pictures or video and you could win a great CPL prize pack and a chance to get published in next year's Freedom to Read Week kit. But hurry — the deadline is February 20th!


You can enter in one of three ways:

  • Make a poster (draw, paint or use photography and other graphic arts, 8½ x 14” or 11 x 17”)
  • Write a poem, short story or essay (max. 300 words)
  • Create a film (3 min. or less)

All content must be your own work, except for short, cited quotations. Contest is open to Calgary students in grades 7 to 12. Please include your name, school, grade and telephone number with your entry.

To enter:
Send your project by e-mail to freedomtoread@calgarypubliclibrary.com OR submit a hardcopy to any Calgary Public Library location.

One entry per person.
Deadline for submissions is Thursday, February 20, 2014.

Freedom to Read Pt 2

by Tomas - 0 Comment(s)

Maintaining freedom of expression requires a constant effort. It’s important to recognize our freedoms, and at the same time to be aware of the challenges they face. Just have a look at the lengthy list of books challenged in Canada for a reminder of just how fragile this freedom is, and the importance of continual vigilance to preserve it.

The Freedom to Read Week contest (deadline for submissions: Thursday, February 20) is a great opportunity to act on this right, and to consider what is at stake.

Not surprisingly, the dangerous friction between freedom and censorship has been explored by many authors. Here is a small selection of quotes that will hopefully inspire you in your own reflections.

Stephen Chbosky When you publish a book, you do so in part to end the silence. All censorship is silence. I would never, as an author, feel right requiring a young person whose family would object to the book to read it. Just as I would never force that person to read it, I would ask those folks to not force others not to read it. To me, that is just good manners.

-Stephen Chbosky
 
Sam Shepard I do not believe in censorship, but I believe we already have censorship in what is called marketing theory, namely the only information we get in mainstream media is for profit.

-Sam Shepard
 
Julian Assange

Stopping leaks is a new form of censorship.

-
Julian Assange

 
Jeff Buckley

I resent the fact that a parental warning sticker has to be included on an album as cover art. To me that's censorship.

-Jeff Buckley

 
Robert Cormier

You seldom get a censorship attempt from a 14-year-old boy. It's the adults who get upset.

-Robert Cormier

 
Lois Lowry The man that I named the Giver passed along to the boy knowledge, history, memories, color, pain, laughter, love, and truth. Every time you place a book in the hands of a child, you do the same thing. It is very risky. But each time a child opens a book, he pushes open the gate that separates him from Elsewhere. It gives him choices. It gives him freedom. Those are magnificent, wonderfully unsafe things.

[from her Newberry Award acceptance speech]

Submitting to censorship is to enter the seductive world of 'The Giver': the world where there are no bad words and no bad deeds. But it is also the world where choice has been taken away and reality distorted. And that is the most dangerous world of all.

-Lois Lowry

 

Neil Gaiman

 

A nice, easy place for freedom of speech to be eroded is comics, because comics are a natural target whenever an election comes up.

-
Neil Gaiman

 

Carl Sagan

 

Frederick Douglas taught that literacy is the path from slavery to freedom. There are many kinds of slavery and many kinds of freedom, but reading is still the path.

- Carl Sagan
 

Katherine Paterson

 

Reading can be a road to freedom or a key to a secret garden, which, if tended, will transform all of life.


-
Katherine Paterson

 

 

Ellen Hopkins

 

 

Torch every book.

Burn every page.

Char every word to ash.

Ideas are incombustible.

And therein lies your real fear.

-Ellen Hopkins

 

Lemony Snicket

 

The burning of a book is a sad, sad sight, for even though a book is nothing but ink and paper, it feels as if the ideas contained in the book are disappearing as the pages turn to ashes and the cover and binding--which is the term for the stitching and glue that holds the pages together--blacken and curl as the flames do their wicked work. When someone is burning a book, they are showing utter contempt for all of the thinking that produced its ideas, all of the labor that went into its words and sentences, and all of the trouble that befell the author . . .

-Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril

 

Judy Blume

 

 

Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won't have as much censorship because we won't have as much fear.

-Judy Blume

 

Salman Rushdie

 

 

An attack upon our ability to tell stories is not just censorship - it is a crime against our nature as human beings.

-Salman Rushdie

 

Nelson Mandela


 

A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.

- Nelson Mandela

 

Announcing the Winners of the 2014 Just Write Contest!

by Carrie

gold trophyOur first Just Write teen fiction writing contest was a big success!

The judges were so impressed with the creativity we saw from every single contestant, and it was definitely a close contest. In the end, though, we only had three prizes to give away, so we had to choose.

Our winners were:

3rd place – April Tian, “The Pawn Shop” – she wins a prize pack of books by local authors & a reading at flywheel, with coaching from Emily Ursuliak

2nd place – Tia Christoffersen, “Face to Face with Hope” – she wins a mentoring session with local author Jani Krulc

1st place – Jessica Chen, “The Bookstore” – she wins a spot at Drink the Wild Air, a winter writing retreat for teens.

Congratulations to April, Tia, and Jessica!

If you didn't win, don't despair; we are running a nonfiction writing contest right now for Freedom to Read Week, and we will definitely be running Just Write again next year. Keep reading this blog for more chances to win!

 

The Pawn Shop

by April Tian

It was at the fall of dusk that I found myself standing without a penny to my name under the glowing neon signs of an anachronous pawnshop, Pretty Treasures. Overhead, the setting sun blanketed the once bustling street in a sluggish sheet of velvet. The sign above shone proudly, battling away the listless hues with a vibrant and radiant gold. However, to know what was in the shop you had to go inside; the patina of dust on the front window was thick, but once I thought I made out the shape of an owl on the other side of the glass, its wings lifted in frozen flight, forever.

Compelled by unknown forces, my fingers found themselves wrapped tightly around the handles. The solid oak doors flung open effortlessly, followed by a gust of chocking air, riddled with the musky scent of things long forgotten.

The room was dark. Strange shapes flickered black against the monotonous grey backdrop. I felt a cry tear at my throats, but the tenacious gurgle of my stomach indicated otherwise. My whole body shivered in delight as a sweet smell of roasted meat trickled from with in.

“Oh honey, you must be famished!” I turned around to face a well-worn woman, her hands and cheeks probably pink from spending days by a hot stove and her inviting smile glistened in the dark.

“I was just having some dinner, be a doll and join me would you?” Her voice flowed like a soothing river, washing away all the branches and clumps of grass in its way. And I too, much like a fish, was swept away by her gentle currents. “I do get lonely sometimes.” She admits sincerely.

Still in shock at this show of kindness, I nodded dumbly and together we made our way to the back of the homey shop. To my surprise, the dinner table was small but big enough as if it was made just for two. Upon the table sat a single porcelain dinner plates, piled high with slices of roasted beef, strings of sausages and strips of bacon, and beside it twinkled a devilish red glass of cranberry juice. The woman gestured for me to sit while having no indication of doing so herself.

Are those all for me?

“Go on. You must eat. You are way too skinny for a pretty thing like you. Just look at those pretty curls and that delicate face. Go on and dine to your hearts content.” The woman smiled reassuringly.

Without a moments delay, I dug in heartily, the food flooded my body with warmth. Between bites, I gulped down mouthfuls of the exotically sweet juice that made my head spin in happiness.

Unknowingly, while the other was eating, the older woman never once left her initial position. She smiled as if hearing a joke for the first time. And if you were to lean in closer, you would hear her mumble repetitiously:

“Such pretty treasures.”

 

Face to Face with Hope

by Tia Christoffersen

The message had reached everyone successfully. They were all there, hovering above my shaking hands, above the life-changing object at the ends of my fingertips.

At any moment, the Authorities could burst through the door and arrest us all for our secret meeting, or “Unjust Gathering”, as the Authorities called it at criminals’ executions. Treason would surely be on our criminal repertoires after they got their hands on the espérer.

“What we’re doing here is dangerous,” I say, enclosing my fingers around the espérer.

“We know, Veruca,” someone says, followed by a murmur of understanding from the group of women.

“Goggles on, then,” I order. “The switch,” I hear the familiar buzz indicating I may proceed.

The wires are easy to manipulate, but the small circuitry is always daunting. I feel my hands tremble, worse now. It is now only a matter of time before the electricity coursing into our supposedly abandoned cellar is noticed, and the Authorities come storming in.

After several moments of anticipation, a spark erupts from the small yet powerful object, and shoots down the wire we have laid on the floor, out the window, and to the Country’s power source, its motherboard, which is located one mile from our workshop.

Two loud, short raps on the window from our lookout indicate she saw the spark, too. A moment passes before one loud, unanimous cheer bursts from the mouths of seven women, who have spent their lives being stifled by their Commanders, the Authorities, the dominant group.

Sixteen years of work for one split second spark that will change the lives of thousands.

Three raps are suddenly delivered on the window, meaning something much worse than that lovely couple I heard earlier. A loud shriek. A gunshot. Our lookout is dead.

The room is silent as we wait. We adapt our stony expressions of resilience, which we have employed so many times in our lives.

The cellar door bangs open, and boot stomps sound against the muddy, concrete stairs. I do net let go of the espérer.

“Run,” I whisper. But no one does. They all knew that by being here they were accepting their imminent death. They all knew. And still, they came. Along with taciturnity, we accept our fate.

The next moments go by in a blur. The object I have hunched over for sixteen years is ripped from my clutches, and I am beaten into oblivion. To my ears comes silence, but for the angry shouts from the Authorities.

My eyes are swollen to the point where I can see only through slits, and my bloodied body is dragged harshly up the stairs to its demise.

But what I see when I reach the light of day…. is darkness. And rioting. People standing up to the Authorities. Commanders lie facedown, murdered, in the street.

I let myself succumb to unconsciousness, knowing that espérer has worked. It lives inside us all.

writing prompt

 

The Bookstore
by Jessica Chen

The bookstore on the corner was my home.

Not literally, of course—I lived two blocks over, but I spent most of my time in the bookstore. It didn’t look like a bookstore on the outside. To know what was in the shop you had to go inside; the patina of dust on the front window was thick, but once I thought I made out the shape of an owl on the other side of the glass, its wings lifted in frozen flight.

Inside, there was no owl. There were just books—rows and rows of them, spilling off the shelves.

The owner of the bookstore was an old woman named Mrs. Durand. I was perhaps her only regular customer, and while we had rarely spoken but for the exchange of money for book, we still gave each other unsure smiles when we saw each other. She was old enough to have remembered World War II, a young woman living in the terror of France.

Sometimes I thought about how she was another story in a store filled with stories. I usually didn’t linger on it, preferring to curl up with one of her books instead, but today I held a story about the French Resistance, and my curiosity peaked.

I walked up to the counter, where Mrs. Durand sat in an armchair. When she saw me, she looked up and heaved herself out of the chair, walking unevenly to the counter. “Hi,” I said nervously. I had never been great at speaking to people, even Mrs. Durand, even after all these years. “I’d like to hear a story.” Realizing that this may have sounded demanding, I added hurriedly, “If it’s all right with you.”

“Hear a story?” Her voice was thickly accented with French. “Not read a story. Surely that book you have in your hands would be fascinating.”

I nodded. “It is interesting. I like it. That’s why I kind of want to hear one ... please. You lived in France during World War II, didn’t you?”

At my words, a touch of sadness appeared on her face. “You should come back here,” Mrs. Durand said, gesturing to the space behind the counter.

I had been regularly visiting the bookstore for the better part of two years, and I had never been behind the counter. I sunk into the second squishy armchair.

“When World War II started,” Mrs. Durand said, “I was eight years old. I remember a lot of it, though—I saw it through the eyes of a child.” And with that, she let sixty years of locked-up memories flow. She told me about her family, the terror, the air raids, and I listened to all the stories she had to share.

It was better than any story I had ever read.

When I left the bookstore that day, I knew that even when I wasn’t in the dusty-windowed bookstore, I would hold the stories of everyday people close to my heart forever.

Teen Writer's Toolkit: Editing

by Emily - 0 Comment(s)

So a lot of you have already sent us stories for Just Write, and I'm really excited about reading them, but maybe there's a few of you out there who haven't sent us your story just yet, maybe you think you want to make it a little bit better first. Learning to edit your stories is something that takes time and experience. Sometimes you feel like something's the matter with your story, but you can't quite figure out what it is. For our last Teen Writer's toolkit I thought I'd give you some tips on how to get started editing:

1. Make sure your story is all typed out and double-spaced (that will give you lots of room to write comments to yourself). Print it out and get a pen or a pencil to edit with.

2. Read the story over carefully. Something people often have troubles with is describing characters or places so they really jump off the page. Will your reader be able to picture the setting of your story? What about your character? When you're describing things you want to pick unusual details that people might not have thought of right away. When people describe a character they might say "he was old", or "she had red hair." Can we picture that person? Not really. What if instead we said "wrinkles were etched across his face," or "she had spirals of crimson hair." Don't those descriptions sound a bit stronger? See if you can find some places where your descriptions need more unique details.

3. Read it out loud. Sometimes a story sounds good in your head, but when you read out loud it's like you hear it completely differently. Sometimes you might stumble over a sentence, or read something and think it sounds kind of weird. Those are the places you probably need to go back and fix. Trust your gut. This can be good for dialogue too. Writing realistic dialogue can be tricky. The best way to improve is just to listen to how random stangers around you talk (yes, I'm giving you permission to eavesdrop on people, but try not to be too obvious about it). Observing people and all of the little unique details about them will help you a lot when it comes to making your characters more realistic.

Hopefully that gives you a few ideas for how to polish up that story you're just about ready to send. Remember, the deadline is on the 25th, so you only have a few more days left!

The Drink the Wild Air Writing Retreat

by Emily - 0 Comment(s)

Ever wanted a weekend where you could focus solely on your writing away from all the distractions of normal life? Drink the Wild Air is a weekend writing retreat that offers teens that opportunity. Not only can you spend the weekend working on your own projects, but the camp offers two exciting workshops taught by instructors and camp facilitators Kim Firmston and Lisa Murphy-Lamb with a third workshop and instructor to be announced shortly. There will also be opportunities to explore the wintery outdoors and get to know other teen writers.

The camp runs from February 21st-23rd at Kamp Kiwanis (just outside of Bragg Creek) and is a sister retreat to WordsWorth, a more extended camp that allows teens an intensive week of writing courses and outdoor activities. As someone who worked as an instructor at WordsWorth 2013 this past summer I can testify to the magic of the place, magic that will no doubt be a part of the experience at Drink the Wild Air this year. If you win our free pass to attend Drink the Wild Air you will be given the opportunity to become part of a very rich, friendly and supportive writing community. As director for both WordsWorth and Drink the Wild Air, Lisa Murphy-Lamb facilitates an environment that inspires tremendous growth in the young writers who attend it. She hires instructors who not only provide unique and diverse courses, but who are invested in the community of teen writers they encounter and eager to share wisdom with them outside of class. The community of teens that I met last summer were not only a very diverse, and creatively accomplished bunch, but also very welcoming and inclusive. I watched two teens that were new to the program, and a bit shy, be absorbed into this community and become more confident by being a part of it.

If you’d like to find out a bit more about Drink the Wild Air and the two courses being offered for the retreat visit their website and make sure you enter our fiction contest Just Write to have a shot at going! You have until the 25th to get those entries in to us!

Teen Writer's Toolkit: What to Read

by Emily - 2 Comment(s)

Welcome to the second installment of the Teen Writer's Toolkit! This week I want to provide a resource of great books and websites on writing for you to check out. What's the best part about this list? All of the books on it are available at the library, and of course the websites you can visit for free, so you don't have to pay a dime for all this writing advice!

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft - Stephen King

I read this book a long time ago, but it's still one of my favourites. For the first half of the book King provides a memoir about how he became a writer and I have to tell you, there's nothing more satissfying than knowing that he too wrote his fair share of crummy stories and got mountains of rejection letters. Nobody gets to be a literary icon overnight, that's for sure.

The second half of his book is all of the advice he has for writers. I must admit I'm not a fan of King's fiction, he's just not my thing, but he is a good writer and his tips are helpful no matter what you're writing. A lot of his advice has stayed with me over the years, so I hope it'll be helpful for you too.

Sarah Selecky's Website

Sarah Selecky is one of my favourite fiction writers. I read her book of short stories This Cake is for the Party a couple of years ago and fell in love. I highly reccomend that young writers check out Selecky's website as it is a wealth of wisdom on the writing life. You can even sign up for the letters she emails out twice a month which are full of writing insights.

Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life - Anne Lamott

I can't believe I didn't know about this writing book until a couple of years ago. I enjoy it a lot because Lamott really does mean it when she says the book is about writing AND life: she gives a lot of good advice about both. We writers seems to like our "writers therapy" or just griping about the writing life and this book appeals to that desire while also being really insightful.

Litreactor

I'll be honest, I haven't poked around into all the nooks and crannies of this literary website, and that's because it's packed with a lot of content. I first found out about it through author Chuck Palahniuk's tweets. The link I've given you will take you to the "Columns" part of the "Magazine" section for Litreactor, which has lots of cool articles for writers. The site does also offer space for writers to workshop their work and take online writing courses, but that content costs money unfortunately.

Zen in the Art of Writing - Ray Bradbury

I'm pretty sure it was my parents that bought me this book. It's a good over-all how-to book for writers. Bradbury covers a wide range of subjects, from finding your voice and developing your style as a writer, to some hints about the publishing world. He does it all with a great deal of passion for his craft and you can't help but love this quote from the book: "That’s the great secret of creativity. You treat ideas like cats: you make them follow you.” I like the notion of ideas as cats. It takes some work to get them to follow you, because sometimes they'd rather do anything than listen to whatever order you're trying to impose upon them. My last thought on this book: it's by freakin' Ray Bradbury, the guy's a legend so there's some guaranteed good advice in here.

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