We've learned a great deal about our daughter's interests during this pandemic. We've learned that if she could stay on the iPad all day, she would. We've learned that isolation is lonely. But, we've also learned that there was an interest in piano and a love for creative storytelling. Simple bedtime stories have turned into elaborate daytime discussions with plot twists and multiple endings. That's when I knew Written Out Loud would be something she would benefit from and actually enjoy!
Written Out Loud's program is a fully-virtual, storytelling studio, mentored by Hollywood and publishing professionals. Students meet, collaborate, and brainstorm with their "director" virtually and then complete individual writing missions. Your child's writing and storytelling skills will grow by leaps and bounds, as will their confidence, collaborative spirit, and empathy. A typical cohort will take 3-4 months to complete (approximately 12-16 sessions). In the end, your child will complete their book and with the help of Written Out Loud, become a published author.
Our daughter is nine, a perfect age to get started in the Written Out Loud program, which is for kids from ages 7-17. They will be grouped in cohorts, or small, tailor-made "creative crews" of 4-6 kids, who gather in mentored weekly brainstorming meetings on Zoom. In essence, your child will be surrounded by like-minded collaborators (their peers), and mentored by a pro.
Founder Joshua Shelov is a veteran Hollywood filmmaker (best known for writing 2005's Green Street Hooligans (starring Elijah Wood), and 2010's The Best and the Brightest (starring Neil Patrick Harris). Written Out Loud was piloted as a seminar at Yale University (Shelov is an alum and an adjunct professor). The premise: if you love Harry Potter, Hamilton, The Hunger Games, great stories of any kind... and if you want to write books, movies, plays, TV shows... tell your story out loud to others.
My daughter has always enjoyed writing and her school has an incredible writing program that we love. We thought Written Out Loud's program would give her the opportunity to connect with other kids during this isolating time. Plus, it doesn't feel like "school writing" at all - references and lessons are drawn from kids' favorite books, movies, and TV shows. Like-minded kids are placed in small virtual classrooms (Zoom studios). Kids can sign up with a friend(s) or alone (they will make friends, just like our daughter did!)
My daughter was offered this opportunity to try out Written Out Loud for a full session. She signed up with a close friend and they have been writing for about three weeks now. The first meeting is where they met their director, Lindsay Thompson, the Senior Director, and Curriculum Lead, who is also a filmmaker and educator. Her positive energy and confidence in them immediately put the kids at ease, and her encouragement inspired the kids even in their first session. She showed them a short video that demonstrated all sorts of writing formulas. They talked about "story spark" ideas to get their creative juices flowing. The girls were so talkative the whole time on the Zoom call and loved every minute! The second and third sessions were spent discussing creative characterization and setting ideas. This was literally so interesting that as I was listening in on the call, I was Googling some of the places they were talking about as possible settings. My daughter's first story is an adventure that takes place in the Waitomo Glowworm Caves on the North Island of New Zealand; how cool is that!! This goes way above and beyond any creative writing class I ever took in school. Plus, she and her friend have had so much fun writing; it's been a wonderful thing to have during the pandemic.
The program allows the kids involved to have a collective imagination, learn writing and story structure, while in a FUN supportive environment. It's creative collaboration with a team, and the stories the kids are passionate about guide the curriculum. I've seen their confidence grow just over these three weeks, and there is so much excitement about writing as they discuss different ideas. I love seeing this enthusiasm in my daughter again. It almost makes them forget they are on a Zoom call. It feels real and authentic in their minds.
Although my daughter has only been doing the program for a few weeks so far, she's learned so much. These storytelling skills will benefit all areas of her life and in any career - whatever path she chooses to pursue in life. This is such a unique experience and you'll see your own kids will benefit from the storytelling, courage, and collaboration skills they learn in Written Out Loud. What if your child could look back on the pandemic and say "That's when I wrote my first book."
Written Out Loud's revolutionary collaborative writing program has transformed over 400 kids into published authors in 2020 alone. My daughter and her friend get so excited every Tuesday after school to join their Zoom call. They're seeing how little by little their story is evolving into something bigger and better that they are creating. By the spring, they will have completed **and published** their first book. That's Written Out Loud's promise.
If you're looking for a unique holiday gift for your child this year, one they'll remember for a lifetime, the experience we've had with Written Out Loud is priceless. The price for the program is $179/month, and a typical book is completed in 3-4 months (a program launched in January will result in a published book by April break).
However... we have a Santa Monica Macaroni Kid exclusive offer for you:
- Sign up your child along with 3-5 friends (i.e. "create your child's creative crew"), and everyone's tuition will be discounted to $149/month ($596 for the entire 4-month program)
- Sibling discounts and scholarships are available upon request
- Next session starts 1/4/2021.
This program would make a great holiday gift for a creative kid. Your kids will love creating content with confidence and joy in a unique and virtual storytelling program.
Here's a quick video with more information about the program. Your kids will love being published authors!
Written Out Loud sponsored my daughter and her friend for this program and we were also compensated for this article. However, all opinions are my own.
Photo Credit: Chanin Victor