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ASU professor Wendy Williams wanted to create a space for young authors to explore different forms of creative writing, while giving ASU students hands-on experience running a workshop series and providing mentorship. She launched ASU’s Young Authors’ Studio in fall 2017 to do just that, offering free student-run writing workshops for kids in fifth-12th grade.
The project was showcased in the Jan. 8 issue of Literacy Today, the magazine of the International Literacy Association. In the article “Young Author’s Studio: Writing and learning together in Arizona,” Williams and doctoral student Stephanie Reid discuss the importance of celebrating youth voices through this program.
"At a time when we are seeing cuts to creative writing and arts education in schools, having spaces such as this one where young people can pursue their love of writing and explore different ways to write is crucial," said Williams, assistant professor of English in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts and director of YAS.
Williams created the project-based English course Mentoring Youth Writers for upper-division ASU students to earn internship credit as they plan, promote, and run YAS at the ASU Polytechnic campus — and as a space to celebrate and encourage youth writers.
The six-week series meets every Saturday for two hours. Each workshop includes freewriting in a journal, group discussions and a chance to share their work and get feedback from their undergraduate mentors. The youth close the semester with a public performance and writing gallery where friends and family can see samples of their work.