Seven Ways your Child can Find
their Voice as a Young Storyteller

“Developing your writer’s voice requires you to know yourself and reveal that self in your writing: this is who I am and this is what I care most about.” – Jennifer Loudon

So, your child wants to be a writer. That alone deserves a pat on the back. One of the most crucial parts to writing is building a strong voice. When I was a lot younger, discovering my writing voice was no easy feat. What did I want to say? What could I say? Would people even listen? The good news is that this doesn’t have to be your child’s experience. That’s why I have put together some tips that I hope will assist you and your child as they embark on this new writing journey. 

  1. Know Yourself

“Developing your writer’s voice requires you to know yourself and reveal that self in your writing: this is who I am and this is what I care most about.” – Jennifer Loudon

The journey to self-discovery is an important one because supporting your child as they step into their truest selves will open up to them a world of possibilities. Some of the best writers of our time are great at what they do, simply because they have built strong, authentic writing voices for themselves – the human voice is a force to be reckoned with. Take the time to help your child explore who they are and realize their own core values; encourage them to write what they really believe. This is how they can learn early on how to create content that speaks to their true experiences.

  1. Pay Attention

“Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.”   – Jose O. Gassett

If your child is struggling to understand their self-identity, the good news is that there is still time to learn. Encourage them to study themselves like they are going to be on an upcoming exam. What books do they like to read? What are their favourite films? What makes them happy? Cry? Read their work, and help them determine things such as, what their writing voice sounds likes. Is it humorous? Pithy? Persuasive? Motivate them to start the process, allowing them to embrace the stories they were born to tell.

  1. Read, Read and Read Some More

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading; in order to write, a man will turn over half a library to make one book”   – Samuel Johnson

Tell your child to read as much as you possibly can. Everything from novels, magazines, newspapers and scripts. Doing so will help them familiarize themselves with all kinds of writing styles. Read stuff even from writers you don’t like. Why? Because just as writing what you love teaches you about who you are, reading what you hate will do the same. When they read, tell them to ask themselves: Why do I love this so much? Or, why do I hate it? Sit down with your child and help them pick apart the passages that stand out to them in the stories they read.

  1. Study the Rules

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”   – Pablo Picasso

Before you can expect to excel at this art, your child must first master the rules. Support your child as they work to learn all of the proper conventions, including grammar and punctuation. Encourage them to take part in writing games and activities (Our “Budding Storytellers” will feature quite a few that you may try with your child) to strengthen their knowledge in these areas. Remember, the rules are put in place to guide and not restrict your child. You may also wish to bring on board an English or writing tutor that can assist your child outside of the classroom.

  1. Know your Reader

“If the book is true, it will find an audience that is meant to read it.”   – Wally Lamb   

Writing to your reader should be as real as a face-to-face exchange with a friend or family member. A good writer must appeal to the reader’s interests and emotions. Good writing even goes so far as to take the reader on a journey with the lead characters so that they somehow become immersed in the story. In order to achieve this deep and personal connection, prompt your child to enhance their writing voice, by keeping in mind those who will be reading their story.

  1. Be a Storyteller

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”   – Maya Angelou

Excellent writing goes beyond just telling a story, rather, it gives place for the story to unfold before the reader’s very eyes – show, don’t tell. Your child should learn early on how to use words to illustrate vivid images that leave lasting impressions on your audience. Set aside reading sessions with your child, where you can share some of their favourite stories with them. After you have gone through the story with them, ask them to think about why the story captured their attention? Now, help them recreate those same feelings for their audience. We have no doubt that your child has profound thoughts that they are aching to reveal to the world!

  1. Practise!

Nothing in life comes easy. Ask any professional and they will tell you that it takes work to succeed at their craft. Writing is no different. Encourage your child to be intentional about engaging in the practice on a regular basis. There are many ways they can work their writing muscles, whether it is through journaling, poetry or other forms of free-writing. If you sense that your child has the writing bug, consult with your child’s English teacher who can provide some valuable tools to help them stick with it. Also, take advantage of other resources which may be available to you, whether online or at your local library.

Happy Writing!

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Alexandra Chelse

Alexandra Chelse

Alexandra Chelse is the creative director of Speak the Words Storytellers, a platform dedicated to empowering voices to share their own stories and advocate for positive change. When she is not writing, she can be seen watching an inspirational film, whacking a ball out on the tennis courts, or being mesmerized by nature. As she has a special passion for young writers, she also facilitates writing workshops for children and youth in her local community.

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