Brianna Wheeler (’13) On Whitworth’s 2013 Writing Rally


Brianna Wheeler, above, is a senior English major at Whitworth. She teaches fencing and art classes and will begin Whitworth’s MIT program in the summer term.

Brianna participated in the 2013 Writing Rally in March and sent us this dispatch:

The energy, the excited little faces, the volunteers praying that they can manage.  Around 400 children registed for this year’s writing rally and gathered at Whitworth for the chance create their own books.

Patrick Jennings, a children’s author, asked for the children’s thoughts and validated their ideas. He offered an outline for writing that would help the children, parents, and volunteers have a shared vocabulary and vision for creating story structure.

It was in the second of three sessions that I helped my first kid of the day: a sweet second-grade girl who was sure she couldn’t write a story and whose mom had to go help her brother in a computer room for fourth graders.

Half way through dictating her tale of a runaway blue watermelon and his visit to the zoo she stopped short.

“Is this a book?”

“Well, yes, you are making the story.”

And then she just looked at me, huge eyed, unsure of what she had done.

Shortly, we had a ten page narrative, each page starting with the next letter in the word “watermelon” (and yes, this brilliant child who didn’t think she could write came up with sentences starting with the appropriate letter on her own). We were ready to craft the book itself.

She had to take the story home to finish transcribing it into the book, but as she showed it to her mom, she beamed with the conviction that she was creating.

What I loved about the rally was the opportunity for children to realize their own potential as authors.  They were given the affirmation of creativity, support of a structure to shape plot, manual tools or computers to compose and create a finished book with, and the aid of parents and college volunteers to allow them all an opportunity to write for pleasure.

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