Writing Prompts from The Write Stuff!

Writing prompts from The Write Stuff Grades 3-5. Image of pens.

This past month, young patrons gathered once a week to write fantastic tales at our event The Write Stuff. At each session, I provided a number of creative writing prompts based on a theme. The responses these young writers provided absolutely blew me away. Their stories were funny, heartfelt, silly, scary, innovative, thoughtful, and inspiring. These writers also courageously chose to share their stories aloud with each other. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to all of our magnificently creative attendees! The Write Stuff is over (for now!) but I wanted to provide a few of the writing prompts our young patrons completed in November. If your child could not attend, try out a select few of our silly prompts at home! If your child feels particularly inspired and wants to share their work with the world, feel free to share the stories created by making a comment on this post. And be sure to keep an eye out in the future for another series of The Write Stuff! Session 1 (11/2): Point of view/perspectives In this session, we talked about what it means to tell a story from different points of view. What is something that one character knows that another character does not? How can we use that to create humorous stories? We read the book The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka (this story is told from the point of view of the wolf). Sample prompts: I (the librarian) hear something in the back of the library. I walk to the back. I see you (the patron) standing there, hair standing on end, covered entirely in glitter. You have lost one shoe and you are holding a rubber chicken. “What on earth happened?!?” I say. Tell me: What happened? Tell a story (especially a commonly-known fairy tale) from the point of view of a villain or minor character. Session 2 (11/9): Dialogue Ah, dialogue! It can be so difficult to write! I find that I am often quite bogged down when writing dialogue and am overly concerned with getting punctuation correct and providing enough variation in my uses of the verbs “said,” “questioned,” “stated,” etc. So we got rid of that this session! We just focused on the words themselves, writing out dialogue like one would a script. I also encouraged writing in different colored markers for different characters so that writers could really focus on the distinct voices of each of their characters. We talked about how different people will respond to the same prompts in different ways depending upon their personalities. For example, a nice librarian, a mean librarian, and a busy librarian might respond to the prompt “Hi, I’m looking for a book about beetles. Can you please help me find it?” in extremely different ways. We read the book Yo! Yes? by Christopher Raschka. Sample Prompt: An alien from the planet X has disguised himself as a child and enrolls himself in school. It is recess. He introduces himself to another student at school to try to learn more about human culture. Little does he know, the student he is talking to is ALSO an alien from another planet: Y. This alien is also in disguise and thinks she is talking to a human. What does their conversation look like? Session 3 (11/16): Descriptive Text We did the exact opposite of the previous week! Here, we looked at examples of texts that did a great job of using descriptive language to really immerse the reader in a world. And then, of course, kids wrote their own stories! Book excerpts from: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia; The Patron Thief of Bread by Lindsay Eagar Sample prompt: You are a young dragon. It’s time to leave the nest! Describe what it is like to jump out of the nest and soar through the air. What does it feel like? Maybe also describe what it feels like to breathe fire. Session 4 (11/30): Science Fiction This time, we explored a genre: science fiction! We talked about (and wrote our own) science fiction Choose Your Own Adventure stories. We also discussed sci fi radio shows, even listening to a small snippet of an old children’s radio show! Sample prompt: You are hanging out at home, reading a book. All of a sudden, you see a bright light and a person appears in front of you! They say, “I’m you from the future. I need your help.” You are flabbergasted. How does this conversation go? How do you know it’s really a future version of you? What does this person need help with? ~Lisa Jenkins, Youth Services Librarian

Lee Miller and Her World: A Library Program and Booklist

lee miller

Lee Miller (April 23, 1907 – July 21, 1977) was an American photographer and photojournalist  who challenged her contemporary ideas of gender, beauty or age. Often recognized as  a model and a “muse” to several great artists, including Picasso, Man Ray, and Jean Cocteau, Miller was a fiercely independent artist, photographer, actor and one of very few war correspondents credentialed during WWII.  She was a fashion model in New York City in the 1920s before going to Paris, where she became a fashion and fine art photographer. During the Second World War, she was a war correspondent for Vogue, covering events such as the London Blitz, the liberation of Paris, and the concentration camps at Buchenwald and DachauAlmost forgotten for many years and overshadowed by male artists, her work has currently begun to get due recognition.  On Dec 7 at 7pm, the Livingston Public Library presents “ Lee Miller: From Fashion Model To War Photographer.” This illustrated talk by presenter Joanna Madloch covers Lee Miller’s biography, from her unconventional childhood and youth to her unorthodox marriage and family relation, however it concentrates mostly on her development as a photographer who confronted both societal and artistic norms of her time. Madloch’s visual presentation of Miller’s work offers the participants a comprehensive review of the photographer’s style and achievements.  The talk  pays special attention to the discovery of Miller’s work and her transformation into a popular icon, a character featured in historical fiction, and even a heroine of a musical. The movie titled Lee, directed by Ellen Kuras and starring Kate Winslet as Lee Miller and based on the recently released book The Lives of Lee Miller by her son Antony Penrose (a copy is on order for the Library) is set to premiere at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival on 9 September 2023. Here are some books that illuminate this uniquely talented artist from different perspectives, portray some of the dynamic artists in her circle, as well as books on other trailblazing war photographers. The Age of Light: A Novel by Whitney Scharer This richly detailed novel tells the story of Vogue model turned renowned photographer Lee Miller, and her search to forge a new identity as an artist after a life spent as a muse. “I’d rather take a photograph than be one,” she declares after she arrives in Paris in 1929, where she soon catches the eye of the famous Surrealist Man Ray. Though he wants to use her only as a model, Lee convinces him to take her on as his assistant and teach her everything he knows. But Man Ray turns out to be an egotistical, charismatic force, and as they work together in the darkroom, their personal and professional lives become intimately entwined, changing the course of Lee’s life forever. Lee’s journey takes us from the cabarets of bohemian Paris to the battlefields of war-torn Europe during WWII, from discovering radical new photography techniques to documenting the liberation of the concentration camps as one of the first female war correspondents. Through it all, Lee must grapple with the question of whether it’s possible to reconcile romantic desire with artistic ambition-and what she will have to sacrifice to do so.  Close Up On War by Mary Cronk Farrell The story of French-born Catherine Leroy, one of the Vietnam War’s few woman photographers, who documented some of the fiercest fighting in the 20-year conflict. Despite being told that women didn’t belong in a “man’s world,” she was cool under fire, gravitated toward the thickest battles, went along on the soldiers’ slogs through the heat and mud of the jungle, crawled through rice paddies, and became the only official photojournalist to parachute into combat with American soldiers. Later, Leroy was gravely wounded from shrapnel, but that didn’t keep her down more than a month. When captured by the North Vietnamese in 1968, she talked herself free after photographing her captors, scoring a cover story in Life magazine. A recipient of the George Polk Award, one of the most prestigious awards in journalism, Leroy was one of the most well-known photographers in the world during her time.  The Correspondents : Six Women Writers Who Went to War by Judith Mackrell On the front lines of the Second World War, a contingent of female journalists were bravely waging their own battle. Barred from combat zones and faced with entrenched prejudice and bureaucratic restrictions, these women were forced to fight for the right to work on equal terms with men. This book follows six remarkable women as their lives and careers intertwined: Martha Gellhorn, who got the scoop on Ernest Hemingway on D-Day by traveling to Normandy as a stowaway on a Red Cross ship; Lee Miller, who went from being a Vogue cover model to the magazine’s official war correspondent; Sigrid Schultz, who hid her Jewish identity and risked her life by reporting on the Nazi regime; Virginia Cowles, a “society girl columnist” turned combat reporter; Clare Hollingworth, the first English journalist to break the news of World War II; and Helen Kirkpatrick, the first woman to report from an Allied war zone with equal privileges to men. Elsa Schiaparelli : a Biography by Meryle Secrest Miller photographed dynamic and tenacious couturier Schiaparelli.  Her style was a social revolution through clothing–luxurious, eccentric, ironic, sexy.  She collaborated with some of the greatest artists of the twentieth century: on jewelry designs with Jean Schlumberger; on clothes with Salvador Dalí (his lobster dress for her, a lobster garnished with parsley painted on the skirt of an organdy dress, was instantly bought by Wallis Simpson for her honeymoon with the Duke of Windsor); with Jean Cocteau, Alberto Giacometti, Christian Bérard, photographers Baron Adolph de Meyer, Horst, Cecil Beaton, and the young Richard Avedon.  As Secrest traces the unfolding of this dazzling career, she reveals the spirit that gave shape to this large and extravagant life, a woman–a force–whose artistic vision forever changed the face of fashion and redefined the boundaries of art. Farewell