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Jason Reynolds: Could You Tell Your Pet What Love Is?

National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jason Reynolds has a couple more writing exercises to stretch your brain during these difficult weeks. He’s been doing this since the COVID-19 outbreak as a means of helping budding young writers focus their creativity. You can find all of his exercises on our Engage and Families pages.

The first one asks a deceptively simple question: Let’s say your family pet — dog, cat, fish — could suddenly hear, speak and converse with you…but only a little bit. Their vocabulary would be very limited. So how would you tell them what “love” is? You’d have to use simple words and phrases, right? Or maybe an example would work better? A hug? It’s a way to make yourself think about an essential part of our lives that we all know but struggle to define — which is, of course, pretty much what novelists strive to do.


Next, an exercise in world-building: Create your own video game. Again, this is what storytellers do. They create an immersive universe with its own peculiar sets of rules and relationships and we take the journey with them. They’ve built in all sorts of traps and surprises. For your video game, what would you call it? What would be the goal? How would players get to the end?


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