Updated: Nov 15
Kids don’t want to make books that have a resolved ending anymore. They want to make books that have a cliffhanger so that you want to read a second book. I felt like I was fighting it at first because I was always told not having a resolution in a book was wrong. But then I realized - wait a minute…this kid wants to WRITE MORE?! YESSSS. Who am I to stop them. They want the story to keep going. And here I am wanting them to finish their story in a pretty bow.
The kids tell me that tv shows are like this now, and Youtube shows too. They would watch 60-70 episodes of a show because it keeps dragging you through an evil character or multiple battles and as the viewer, you want to keep watching and never stop.
Is this completely foreign to us 5 paragraph essay writers? Yes. Does it feel wrong? Yes. Should we evolve for the kids? YES!
I think we need to start changing the way we teach writing by listening to the kids. Listen to not just what they want to write, but HOW they want to write.
Many of the kids want to write with a lot of animated drawings, speech bubbles, and action. Why? Because it’s got energy! The stories are exciting, and feel like a TV show. And now, they want books that are written like a series. Books that go one after another.
I’m noticing how my students come to class pitching ideas of their next book even though they are still in the process of writing the current story in class. They are thinking about how one will lead to the next.
While this isn’t a beautiful memoir or narrative we are used to writing and reading, there’s some part of me that can’t say no more writing. Also, if this was one kid, I’d think it was a one-off. But no joke, every week I have a student who wants to write cliffhangers and series.
Have you noticed this with your child or with your student? Due to our programmed way of teaching, there’s a chance we have missed these comments and quickly shut them down. I think about how many times a kid suggested writing a book with a lingering ending that didn’t have closure. And I think about how many times I pushed them to change that plan so that I could have the pleasure of a neatly resolved ending. And then, I wonder how my opinion might have destroyed their writing joy.
Lately, I feel that teaching outside of the traditional classroom, outside of limitations and guidelines, has given me a chance to collect fresh new data from a more open lens on how kids REALLY want to write.
I hope this helps you as you work with your child or your students when they write. Be okay with lingering endings. Whatever makes them want to keep writing…is the “write” way. Let their writing remarks guide your practice.
Katharine Hsu, M.Ed.
Katharine is the Founder and CEO of All the Write Colors.
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