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Writing as a group from home

When Mum Selvi heard about Write a Book in a Day, she arranged a team for her son and four of his friends to take part at home. They went in with no expectations but achieved great success, receiving a Commendation for Best Book in WA Primary aged division in 2020.

After reading about Write a Book in a Day on social media, Selvi contacted The Kids’ Cancer Project to find out whether she could enrol a team that wasn’t participating through their school. She was thrilled to find out her son and his friends could write together from home.

“When my son was in Year One, he did a fundraiser for leukaemia. He’s always wanted to do something like that again and he loves writing. So, this competition was two in one.”

Selvi got in touch with the parents of her son’s friends, and they were keen to give the competition a go.

“We pulled it together quite last minute. The kids were focused on helping children and bringing a smile to their faces. They weren’t doing it to win. They just wanted to create something for kids in hospital.”

A new skill

The team were mostly very new to writing. Selvi thinks this allowed them to bring their own unique spin on the story.

 “They’d never entered any writing competitions before but wanted to write for fun. They aimed to do their best and their hard work paid off.”

“We didn’t want it to feel like a stressful exam. It was just time for them to meet up with their friends and try writing in an enjoyable way. They usually hang out and play cricket together, so this was something a bit different.”

A helping hand

Selvi found setting up her writing day much easier than she’d expected.

“We met in one of our houses. There weren’t many materials needed but all the kids came with some stationery. We gave them the prompts and that was it! They just needed a pen and paper and after they’d written a draft, they typed it up. In total we had two laptops and a scanner to scan their illustrations. We didn’t even need to print anything.”

The team’s creativity shone on the day. Selvi and another parent remained on hand to help them focus their ideas.

“They had different ideas about the story and it took a bit of time to agree on this. We didn’t want to limit their creativity, so we gave them support by asking them to brainstorm their ideas.”

 “We wanted to make sure the chapters were connected to each other. We asked them to read their work a couple of times. This helped them work out any differences between chapters.”

Tips for participating at home

Selvi encourages other groups to take part at home and has some great tips for getting the most out of the Write a Book in a Day competition.

“Just let them enjoy it, it’s not about winning. It’s lots of fun watching the kids come up with something beyond your imagination. Trust the kids and don’t limit any of their ideas. You never know what would impress the judges!”

 “Having one child take up a leadership role if they are more confident with writing gives the other kids a learning opportunity. As they’re working with friends, they don’t feel humiliated if they get stuck. One child in our group needed help on their chapter, so the other four contributed. The competition is about writing, but also teamwork.”

The bigger picture

Despite not being the most confident writers, all the team members loved their day and were thrilled to be judged so highly. But for them, the important thing was writing a book for kids in hospital and raising money for childhood cancer research.

 “They got a huge sense of satisfaction knowing their book will be read by kids in hospital,” Selvi says. “The whole reason they took part was to make someone else smile and they feel they accomplished their goal.”