By Meredith Flory
A child who is passionate about sports, music, drama, or even technology, doesn’t find it difficult to plug into extracurricular pursuits year round. However, what if your child is more introverted or interested in pursuing quiet hobbies and skills such as writing or art?
If your child has an inclination to the softer skills, or if they are ready to experience feedback, the following are some ways to start the process of developing those innate talents.
Magazines for Children and Teens Many magazines and websites that cater to children readers also publish letters, art, photography, poetry, and more from their audience. Magazines have submission guidelines on their websites or in copies of the magazines. Newpages.com has a young authors tab with information about publications and contests that accept work from those under 18.
Chameleon Kids is one of those magazines and a publication that specifically focuses on the lives of military kids. Tara Bosier shared with me how her son Kurtis, a tenth grader currently living in Florida, submitted and had an essay published in their pages. Kurtis wrote the essay to submit, but Tara helped him by proofreading it and allowing him to use her email. I asked Boiser how being published had helped him and if she had advice for the parents of other aspiring writers. She responded, “I think it helped him find his voice and give him confidence in himself. He’s put together some awesome school projects and speeches since. I would say encourage them to push the boundaries of their comfort zone always.”
Letter Writing Does your child or teen express a passion for causes and issues through writing? They might research and write for the cause, and depending on the work and outlet, this may even count towards school volunteer hours. Newspapers, magazines and websites often accept letters from concerned children or teens, and worldwide we are seeing stories of young people getting involved with speaking out about causes that they feel are important.
Museums, Libraries, and Art Shows Some locations that showcase art work may have contests or exhibits that focus on young or emerging artists. The Greater Augusta Arts Council has information on their website for local calls and auditions (https://augustaarts.com/for-artists/calls-for-artistsauditions/visual-art-calls/). Children with interests in upcycling furniture, jewelry making, photography, or other visual arts may be able to sell at craft fairs or venues with the assistance and permission of a parent or guardian. Arts in the Hearts has young artists/family booths on exhibit each year. Check the website for entry details, (www.artsintheheartofaugusta.com/).
Writing a Book While fairly rare, there are authors and artists that find success before the age of twenty. With options for self-publishing and online content, younger creators who have had local success might consider, under the guidance and with permission of an adult to help them navigate safety concerns, reaching out to a larger audience.
Local tenth grader at Fox Creek High School, J’nai Coach, started writing a book in middle school that is now published. Her mother, teacher Kim Coach, shared that J’nai has Postural Orthostadic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). She explains that, “this causes very low and high blood pressures, blood pooling, and she can become light headed very often, along with many other symptoms.” Writing and drawing became a way for J’nai to express herself and pass time where she had to stay indoors. Coach shares that, “ I read the first chapter and I thought, ‘Wow this is really good.’ I thought maybe I was being biased, so I took it to the school where I teach and had some of my colleagues read it and they agreed with me.” The family had a friend that had published books through Tandem Light Press, a hybrid publisher that has aspects of both self-publishing and traditional publishing. Coach shares of the process, “The process was easy after she signed the contract and they gave her a time to finish the book and submit it. Then they did the editing and sent it back to see if J’nai agreed with it. Next, it was off to the printer to be printed. She, of course, received the first copy, and to see the look on her face when she opened the packet and realized it was her finished book was priceless.”
If you’d like to read young author J-Nai’s book, The Mysteries of Shadows Creek: The New Neighborhood, it’s available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. Check out tandemlightpress.com for more information.
Photo by Shannon Litt on Unsplash