The encouragement of parents and teachers can mean a great deal for a budding writer, just askSusan Wadino Knapps, a native of Scammon who now lives and teaches in Joplin.
Wadino Knapps said she received that encouragement early on and that set her on the course of dreaming of publishing a children’s book, which came to fruition last year.
Wadino Knapps spoke to about 40 second- and third-grade students who were receiving that encouragement Saturday because their teachers nominated them to attend the Young Fiction Writers Workshop at the Pittsburg Public Library.
“I’ve been storytelling since the fifth grade,” Wadino Knapps said. “Even before school, my mother would read to us. I just loved the fairy tales. To me, they always have the ending that teaches a lesson.”
She said that inspired her fiction work, which she said could be considered fractured fairy tales.
Friends of the Library president Jenifer McDonald said Wadino Knapps was a great fit for a keynote speaker for the conference, due to her work as a writer and teacher.
She added that the students present were eager learners.
“All these kids want to be here,” McDonald said. “They just want to create.”
McDonald said the presenters were as thrilled to get to be there as the students.
“Every single one of my presenters are beside themselves because it is for the kids,” McDonald said.
Students from Pittsburg, Frontenac and Colgan were nominated to attend by their teachers, and spent four hours listening to Wadino Knapps, eating lunch, developing story ideas, using demonstration LEGO StoryStarter kits and attending workshops in which they learned about voice and scheme, illustrations, the writing procedures and journaling.
“I’ve had some great conversations today,” Wadino Knapps said, adding that the students were eager to learn and asked great questions about writing.
McDonald said this is the second workshop of this sort, and it began when USD 250 was no longer able to continue its young authors program.
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McDonald praised the community sponsors that made the event possible and said it has been a privilege for the Friends of the Library to do so.
“One of the missions of the friends is to ensure lifelong learners,” McDonald said. “Writing and learning go hand-in-hand.”