Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dancing With The Pen II: a collection of today's best youth writing

Video games. Television. Computers. The Internet. With so many electronic distractions, how can a parent get their child or teenager to pick up a book and read this summer?

Write On! Books has the answer: a series of book written by young writers geared specifically for young audiences. The second volume of Dancing With The Pen: a collection of today’s best youth writing has just been released! The book features stories, poems, and essays by more than fifty young writers in elementary school, middle school and high school, from all across the United States. Their work explores everything from travel to friendship, love to loss, fear to hope—themes that both celebrate diversity and transcend hometowns, backgrounds and cultures.

I founded Write On! Books in 2011 with the simple question: Who knows what kids want to read better than kids themselves? Not only do I want to empower the next generation of writers, I also hope to get young people excited about reading by publishing a variety of dynamic, creative work written by their peers.

I am passionate about nurturing confidence in today’s youth through writing and reading; to be sure, creativity has made a profound impact on my life. I published my first book, a collection of short stories and poems titled There’s a Huge Pimple On My Nose, when I was in fifth grade, and the experience was a turbo-boost to my self-esteem. For the first time, I saw myself as a writer. I felt like I could pursue any dream, as long as I worked hard and believed in myself.

I hope that the young writers published in Dancing With The Pen find renewed joy, deep pride, and lasting confidence. I have no doubt they will go on to do many wonderful things, and feel honored to be part of making a dream come true for them. As contributor Sofia Felino wrote me in an email, "This really means so much and it's amazing -- I've been dreaming of being published since birth!"

This past Saturday, we had a special book launch pizza party for young writers in the Bay Area. It was a magical evening celebrating seven young writers, who read their work out loud to the audience. Among the young writers in attendance were Rosalie Chiang, a Fremont homeschooler, who penned two fictional stories about animals teaching humans lessons in bravery and friendship. Vivek Bellam, from Danville, wrote about a robot battle and Jennifer Huang, from San Ramon, wrote about a young artist trying to “make it big” in New York City. Arham Habib, a high school student from Danville (pictured below) read his essay: a letter to legendary author Ray Bradbury about Fahrenheit 451.

A Southern California book launch party will take place at Mrs. Figs' Bookworm in Camarillo on Thursday, July 21 at 5pm. Young writers will read their pieces and autograph books. It will be an exciting event for the entire community. We would love to see you there!

The response to the Dancing With The Pen series has been overwhelmingly positive. In its debut week of release, the first volume of Dancing With The Pen rose to a #2 ranking on Amazon.com in the "literature anthologies" category. One Amazon reviewer praised, “This stunning anthology is a testament to the fact that magic can flow through the pens of writers of any age.” Another gave the book five stars and wrote, “From short stories to poetry, fantasy to realistic fiction, there's something in here for everyone of all ages to enjoy.”

Indeed, while the book series was originally aimed at young people, adult readers are raving as well. Randy Robertson, parent of three, remarked, "It is a treat for us adult readers to gain an insight into what this upcoming generation is thinking and feeling." And LA Parent reviewer Debbie Glade wrote, "Some of the stories and poems are so wisely penned, I had to double check the ages of the writers in their short bios."

Parents and teachers who are concerned about youth illiteracy can feel doubly good about purchasing Dancing With The Pen. For every copy sold, a new book will be donated to Write On’s Holiday Book Drive to benefit disadvantaged and at-risk youth. Since 2001, we have donated more than 14,000 new books to underprivileged kids across the U.S.

Publishing the Dancing With The Pen series has reaffirmed for me the power of books and reading. I am blown away by the insightful, daring, thought-provoking work being produced by young writers today! I know you will be, too.

Personalized copies of Dancing With The Pen are available at the Write On! website: www.writeonbooks.org.

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