Ryan is writing a book. Well, not literally. He can't actually read or write just yet.
But! This kid is writing a chapter book in his head. He is seriously creative, this guy. I had no idea until a couple of days ago that all this was going on inside his noggin. But he has evidently been brewing this up for quite a little while. He gets SO excited when he talks about his "book."
So far, there are five chapters. He's told them to me a few times. Most of the stories are based on actual events that have happened in our family, with embellishments for dramatic effect or bits of stories that he has heard thrown in for fun (like the trolls in The Hobbit, which is the current bedtime story).
His favorite chapter is about the time he squirted one of the cats with the sink sprayer and the cat freaked out and in her haste to escape tried to run through the vertical slats of the closed baby gate and got unfortunately stuck halfway, flailing around frantically until she managed to work herself out, never to be seen again. Or rather, not for a long time. Ryan simply can't breathe with laughter when telling this story. It was hilariously funny at the time, although I'm pretty sure the cat still doesn't see it that way. She's fine, btw.
There's more to his plan than simply recalling some funny stories he's experienced or read about. He is planning to write this out ("when I'm a grown up and know how to write") and then get his friends to act these stories out. Sometimes it will be a play, sometimes he plans to film it. He wants to act in them, too, but he also wants to direct. This kid has BIG plans for all these stories.
So--how to assist him? I really want to encourage this kind of creativity, for a couple of reasons. First, I think if he sees the product of his imagination on paper or in a notebook, or colors the pictures associated with his stories, or sees us or his friends acting them out on video, then I think it will be a big motivator for him to want to learn to read and write himself, so he can write more books, independently. Also, I think that he will get to experience the pride of productivity and efficacy that comes with accomplishing a big goal.
What I think I'm going to do is have him tell me the story and I'll type it in a Word document while he watches. Then we can print the documents and maybe illustrate them or color them. We can also re-read what he wrote and then improve them, edit them a bit. Perhaps we can come up with a quick one-act play out of one of these chapters, with a role for him and Morgan, and maybe me, too. I have a feeling that either he or Morgan would LOVE to play the role of the unlucky cat. We'll definitely have to use a prop instead of the real sink sprayer though!
There are so many skills that a project like this can teach or reinforce: planning, sequencing, building props, reading and writing (of course), speaking, making sense, working with others to get them to want to help you out (in other words, how not to be too bossy, which is something that he really needs to work on. Takes after me, he does!).
Maybe we'll focus on one chapter over a week or two--I have to be careful about making this too formal of a thing, as he can sniff out "Mom wants me to do this" a mile away and begins digging in his heels before I've even uttered the words "Hey! Doesn't this sound like fun?" :o) And I also don't want to kill his interest by putting too much structure around his ideas--he's not even 6 yet.
So that's what I'm thinking so far. Just a few minutes a day, with a focus on him being able to have something tangible for his efforts, and making it fun, too. I talked it over with him a bit and he is definitely interested, so that's good. I'm also looking for more ideas and suggestions. Any thoughts?