Gaetan Pappalardo, writing at Edutopia (the George Lucas Educational Foundation) brings up a great point--why aren't we spending more time in schools teaching kids to write fiction? I know from day-job experience that the Common Core and state standards don't leave a lot of room in curriculum for fiction writing. Teachers have a lot to cover before the end-of-the-year assessments, and unfortunately sometimes they can't afford to take time away for fiction writing. Even fiction literature is getting crowded out of textbooks. Standardized tests don't often ask kids to write an original fantasy, or some historical fiction. To succeed in the real world, kids need to learn how to write persuasive essays, business letters, and other forms of nonfiction.
I have a vivid memory of making my first "book," in fifth grade. I laminated the cover and illustrated a signature of pages about some sort of fluffy rabbit who got into shenanigans. I loved the process so much that I (very ambitiously) wrote in my class journal that my life goals were to swim in the Olympics and publish a book.
Obviously, one of those stuck with me.
I can't remember any elementary-school assignments to write narrative nonfiction or informational texts or how-to articles or biographies. I remember what I created, probably because making stuff up is thrilling at any age. Aren't I lucky that I discovered that so young? In part, I have my teacher to thank (Thank you, Mrs. Gerlach!). It's a shame that as fiction writing gets pushed out of early education, fewer kids get to discover the wonder and joy and pride and growth that comes from creative writing.
"Fantastical expression is "The Ring," "The Chosen One," "The Book," or any other metaphorical statement representing the beating heart -- the life force -- the triumph of the imagination. We have the ability and the opportunity to feed it, make it stronger, and even inspire children to set their own path for greatness. In the book, The Wizard Behind Harry Potter, Marc Shapiro states that teachers admired Joanne Rowling's talent at an early age. She took these compliments as a sign that she had found something she was good at. And isn't that what we all want?"