Monday, September 15, 2014

The Power of Writing from Your Own Life

Guest Post by Meg Medina

When I’m working with high school students, I like to help them experience the power of their own lives and memory as a source of inspiration for their work. Juniors and seniors are about to leave childhood behind – the joys of it as well as the hurtful parts. What’s ahead is unknown. They often feel ambivalent about what’s ahead, and they are almost always exhausted by the tasks of junior and senior year. It’s the perfect time to have them take a look back.

Depending on my time constraints, I ask students to bring a sample of a favorite toy/game from childhood. (Sometimes, we just make a quick list.) Basically, we spend some time in a free write, allowing our toys to unlock a memory. There is no stopping or crossing out. Just a stream of consciousness about this toy and a memory of how they played with it and with whom. I ask them to consider why they think they remember this event or person. I let them write for about 8 minutes, and then we share (on a volunteer basis, of course).

It’s always amazing to see what young people remember about the people and events that have shaped them. For me, the gold is always when they begin to name what it was like for them to grow up.

BIO: Meg Medina is an award-winning Latino author of picture books, middle grade, and young adult fiction whose work examines how cultures intersect through the eyes of young people. Her novel, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass earned the 2014 Pura Belpré medal, the 2013 CYBILS fiction award, and the International Latino Book Award 2014. Meg is also the 2012 Ezra Jack Keats New Writers medal winner for her picture book Tia Isa Wants A Car. Visit Meg at

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