Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Writing For Children





The muses are once again on vacation, and I am in no mood to write a composition. My head is like a primordial soup these days. Ideas slip like a drinking glass held by a well-lubricated hand. But in an effort to share something I learned, let me tell you a story about how my mentorship with Bentusi is evolving lately.

Raket season has begun and I was once again asked to write articles for kids. Unlike the essays I did before, Bentusi sent new sample articles to follow. She did not say whether we should use her writing style or not. The instructions in the email stressed that we should cut our sentences for easy digestion. We should also use small words that can be easily understood by a ten-year old pupil.

Given the specifications, I read Bentusi's article and discovered how much creativity was put into it. It was not your average 4Ws format, instead, a story weaves through the essay. Fables were used, as well as dialogues spoken by imaginary characters. I found the narrative heartwarming, and for a moment, the stories opened a window to a world I had long lost.




Back in the Masters Program, I evaded classes that would require writing for children. I found the practice feeble, and at times, even shallow. What I didn't realize then are the skills needed to drive home a message. How can you describe each variety of Mangoes without sounding too pale and bookish? That was what Bentusi showed me through her writing, and I welcomed her lessons favorably.

I followed Bentusi's footsteps using my own skills as a wordsmith. Putting my heart into my craft, this has become my first creation:



Shadow Play


Mary Anne was doing her homework when the lights went off. A blackout left much of the neighborhood in the dark.

Coming to the rescue is her big sister Olga. With two candles in her hand, she places one on Mary Anne’s study table. The big room is once again alighted.

She could continue doing her homework, but Mary Anne was warned not to read in low light or she will strain her eyes. With nothing to do except to wait for the lights to come back, she looks around to find something to keep herself busy.

Mary Anne walks away from the light source and sees her shadow beginning to shrink. “That’s fascinating!” she said. She walks farther away from the candle and closer to the wall to find her shadow now as tall as her.

She tries doing animal shapes with her hands. First is a bird and then a dog. She even succeeds in shaping her hands to make it look like a rabbit. Mary Anne was having a great time doing shadow play when Olga suddenly passes by the doorway.

“What are you doing sister?” A flash of bright light forces Mary Anne to cover her eyes.

Olga points her big, powerful flashlight at her sister. Mary Anne has to turn her back to block the light. She notices another shadow forming, a big looming shadow against another wall.

Then and there she learns that shadows are formed when an object blocks a source of light. It becomes big and small depending on the distance of an object from the light source. As Mary Anne walks towards the other part of the wall, she sees her two shadows behind her. One is getting smaller, while the other one stays the same.

Just when she was about to touch her other shadow, the lights begin to blink. Power is restored and it’s back for Mary Anne to finish her homework.



I do not know how the article comes across the readers, but underneath the narrative are questions, that were succinctly answered. How do shadows form? How large and small shadows are made? How can one form many shadows?

Aided by Google, these questions were decoded. And while explanations could have been given in linear fashion, I learn that for a message to reach its reader, one must think and act like the reader.




Imagination



Who would have thought that the training, which I deliberately ignored in school would eventually find me.  The only difference between then and now is seven dollars which will be deposited to my PayPal account at the end of the month.





14 comments:

Alter said...

just gave me an idea to go back to illustrations. deserves a post. ;)

Louie said...

Your project raketship entries are very fascinating. I tried that egg buoyancy experiment once at home and was surprised to find out that the egg really floated after a few dashes of salt. Haha!

These entries of yours (surprisingly) bring me back to my childhood which I thought was long forgotten. :)

paci said...

it is a challenge to tell a story to children that is why i salute pre-school and (during our time) grade one teachers. if it is herculean to relate a story to wide-eyed innocent tots, what more to write a story for them?

thor said...

Dude constructive criticism: work on your tenses.

Work-at-home mom said...

Thor's right. Consistency in tenses is important.

Having said that, I would add that the story has good flow, it is worded simply enough for children but not so simple as to insult their intelligence, and if an editor had to choose between good grammar and good flow, it would be so much easier for the editor to correct grammar :-)

In other words, good job!

Guyrony said...

Children story-telling or writing might seem superficial, feeble and weak to any writer but it's how you can relate to them, how you can draw up their imagination, how you can make them see the world according to your eyes that makes it worthwhile.

Désolé Boy said...

I wanna hug you Kuya. Ang galing galing!
.
.
like that one episode at Spongebob: imagination!

Mu[g]en said...

Alter:

We are looking forward to see your illustrations. =)

Louie:

The Raketship Project gave an opportunity to revisit some old schools of learning that were already buried after new ideas were introduced. Kumbaga, its balik-eskwela para sa akin. Haha.

Paci:

And that is why I think, teaching young children is a passion and not work. :)

Mu[g]en said...

Thor:

Its an affliction I've been working on since college. That's why I rely on editors to correct my grammar flaws. :)

Nanay:

Wahahaha! Wala akong masabi! Thanks for the kind words. Like what I've said to Louie, parang balik eskwela yung mga write-ups ko sayo. Hindi naman obvious na I'm having so much fun doing it. Lol.

Welcome to my blog! Daya daya! I owe you an entry pa!

Mu[g]en said...

Guyrony:

For someone who loves to write about his childhood, you would pick a lot of lessons from what Bentusi had taught me. :)

Desole:

You did like my feel-good entry! Hahaha! Hug din :)

the geek said...

i love reading children's books.

maybe, i am still a child at heart.

:)

Yj said...

i like playing with shadows too... kaya lang hindi mga kamay ang gamit hihihihihi

ay pambata pala dapat to... yaiy... :)

Mu[g]en said...

YJ:

Halaaaaa!! Na curious daw ang mga bata! Ano daw ang gamit mo? Hihihihi!

The Geek:

Being a child at heart is good! You get to appreciate life at its subtlest levels.

Spiral Prince said...

At first I thought it would be a story centered on sibling relationship, but the middle proved otherwise and the end was great. It's a story those kids will most likely remember when they see/play with shadows.