Harrisburg Library holds first meeting of new writing club

By Christie Barlow
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Instead of reading the books at the Harrisburg library in the coming months, the kids are going to be writing them.

The library’s Writing Club held its first meeting on Thursday and many eager authors came out to flex their creative muscles.

The club is for kids in grades three to six and focuses on introducing them to different formats of writing. The ongoing club will meet for an hour the last Thursday of each month starting at 4:15 p.m. Kids will learn about poetry and short stories, among other types of writing.

“The idea is to get them excited enough they’re going to want to look into (the genres) and find out a little more,” said Chris Whipple, a teacher at Carolina International School who is organizing the class.

“(It’s to) let them know it’s not so stuffy,” said Jody Hunter, a member of the library staff who, along with Whipple, will run the writing club. “It used to be thought of as so stuffy. Now, anything goes.”

Unlike work the kids may do in the classroom, the writing club is going to focus on telling stories and coming up with ideas, not on the details of writing, Whipple said. Because of the limited amount of time they have, Whipple and Hunter want to spend as much time helping kids develop their stories as they can.

“We formed the partnership to sort of foster an excitement over words,” Whipple said. “Out of class, we’re not so focused on the rules, it’s more of the fun in writing. Later we can worry about the tools.”

About 22 kids attended the club’s initial meeting. At that meeting, kids were introduced to several different types of poetry and were challenged to write down a collection of words that reminded them of their favorite color. Whipple and Hunter used the activity as an introduction to description, which is very important in story telling, they said.

Lisa Naughton brought her two daughters out to the writing club because her oldest daughter, Ashlyn, really enjoys creative writing. Naughton saw the club as a chance to help her kids develop their story-telling abilities in a more relaxed setting than school.

“It gets them exposure to new experiences,” Naughton said. “It lets them use their imagination and build off of stories they’ve already read.“

Whipple initially approached Hunter in hopes of having the writing club she runs at Carolina International School meet at the library. When Hunter heard the idea, she proposed expanding the club to include anyone else interested. The duo thought that giving kids a chance to write among books was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up.

Whipple continues to operate the writing club at Carolina International School, but some of her students have joined the meetings at the Harrisburg library.

Tommy Farina, a sixth-grader at Carolina International School, joined the school’s writing club because he loves using his imagination and creating stories. He was excited when he heard there was going to be another chance to meet with different people and talk about and share their stories. Being able to share his ideas helps him figure out what he wants to do in stories and come up with more ideas, Farina said.

“I love writing, just spreading my ideas to everyone,” Farina said. “It helps to get my ideas straight and better.”

• Contact Christie Barlow at [email protected] or 704-789-9140.

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