Popular children’s author Andrew Daddo says that after two months in lockdown, there has never been a better time for Australian kids to unleash* maximum mischief. But before parents panic, the best-selling author of hits including the Atticus Van Tasticus series is only talking about an imaginary rebellion: inventing stories about breaking all the rules.
“Imagine your 9-year-old writes a story, ‘Here’s what I wasn’t allowed to do during COVID, and here’s what happened.’ For instance: ‘Don’t go talk to that person, don’t get too close,’ so I went straight up to him and I touched him’,” Daddo said.
As one of the author ambassadors* of storytelling platform Littlescribe, Daddo said the online creative writing program was perfect for kids looking for extra pathways* to freedom after such a long and comprehensive* confinement.
“I definitely think that they’re looking for escape,” Daddo said. “They’re looking for fun, they’re looking for a reason to enjoy themselves at a time when probably all the big people in their lives are not, and finding it hard.”
The coronavirus crisis is especially fertile* ground for budding young writers as they begin returning to the classroom.
While children often struggle with their initial idea, the pandemic and the unusual circumstances it has created mean that there is ample* material everywhere to add to their stash of personal memories about these strange days.
Daddo suggested parents could help simply by reminding their child about everything that has been out of bounds for months, because prohibition* worked like fairy dust on productivity.
“Imagine saying, ‘Don’t you go on that equipment’ and they write a story. ‘I didn’t just go on the equipment, I licked it, and it tasted like…’ — this is what I like about story writing personally, that you get to do the things you’re not allowed to do,” he said.
Over 1000 schools around Australia have already connected to Littlescribe. Its unique co-author program, designed for homes and schools, features videos, activities and story-starters by some of Australia’s best-loved children’s authors.
Teenager Jasmine D’Almeida, 13, chose to co-author with Tristan Bancks because of his novels’ vivid descriptions.
“I can use these techniques, add my own twist and now create my own book,” she said.
Her brother, Harry, 11, has a more entrepreneurial* bent and said the program was also fun and easy for making calendars and cards to give to his mum.
“I’m also creating products for my top-secret business I created during homeschooling and I’m going to launch,” he said.
Clearly a writer with an incurable taste for trouble, Daddo recommended parents tell children all the rules they broke as kids, like having midnight feasts, secret yabbying adventures and unsupervised science experiments.
Littlescribe founder and chief executive Jenny Atkinson said another terrific entry point was your child’s happy place.
“If they’re a photographer, if they’re into nature, if they’re into Minecraft, use it as a chance to explore and understand them,” Ms Atkinson said.
“That’s where I start, just the really simple stuff that your kids love.”
Anything goes when it comes to kids interpreting the new normal — just as long as parents can resist the urge to become instant in-house editors.
“They don’t even need to imagine much, they just have to think about what they’re seeing,” Daddo said.
“Help them get that onto the page without panicking about spelling and punctuation. I think that’s where we get in the way as adults.”
- unleash: release, let go
- ambassadors: representatives
- pathways: roads
- comprehensive: complete, total, broad
- fertile: productive, fruitful, rich
- ample: plenty
- prohibition: bans, restrictions
- entrepreneurial: inventive, business-minded
- Who writes the Atticus Van Tasticus book series?
- Which author did Jasmine choose to co-author with?
- What does Harry like making for his mum?
- How many schools are already connected to Littlescribe?
- Does Andrew Daddo suggest kids write about doing as they are told?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. Write Your Story
Write your own story about breaking all the rules.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English
Some people might think that encouraging kids to break the rules is a bad thing. What do you think? Write an explanation of your opinion. Remember to use examples to make your writing as convincing as possible.
Time: allow at least 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social Capability
The glossary of terms helps you to understand and learn the ambitious vocabulary being used in the article. Can you use the words outlined in the glossary to create new sentences? Challenge yourself to include other VCOP (vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation) elements in your sentence/s. Have another look through the article, can you find any other Wow Words not outlined in the glossary?
HAVE YOUR SAY: What coronavirus rule would you break in your story?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.