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Jason Reynolds: Two Writing Exercises for Young Writers

We’ve got a double shot of writing exercises today for young writers from Jason Reynolds, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. He’s doing a series of these — short, witty, thoughtful — and you can find them on our Engage or Families pages.

The first one is about framing things that are special to you. It’s a way of preserving something you find important as well as making a statement to others that this is part of who you are. Jason tells us he has all sorts of things framed, including the contents of his grandmother’s wallet. This tells us that his grandmother, and the live she lived, is important to him today. This, in turn, tells us something about him.

“All sorts of things that I love, I have them framed,” he says.

For writers, stories are something special that you frame inside the covers of a book. There’s also a standard narrative technique called a “framing device” to tell stories. This is when, say, an older character begins telling a story about their youth. The narrative then switches to the old days. When that tale is finished, the narrative comes back to the older character, who then reflects on what it all meant and how it shaped them. The end.

Here’s Jason:


The second exercise is about cooking up a special recipe. It’s another terrific way of thinking about the ingredients we choose to put in stories. Here, he’s talking about a recipe to make young writers both creative and courageous — which are, he says, often the same thing.


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