Young Authors' Studio

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Young Authors' Studio

Young Authors' Studio (YAS) is a free six-week writing program for youth in grades 5-12 that takes place on Saturdays at Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus. The program has a unique service-teaching-research mission.

Program goals

  1. YAS aims to provide youth in the community (grades 5-12) a free writing program that inspires creativity, increases confidence, strengthens academic writing skills, offers access to multiple forms of composition, and builds bridges to college.
  2. YAS aims to provide ASU students enrolled in ENG 484/584: Mentoring Youth Writers real-world experience as they plan and promote a writing program, mentor youth writers, problem-solve as a team, and communicate with multiple audiences.
  3. YAS aims to provide researchers, including graduate students, opportunities to study writing and mentoring, with the goal of advancing writing education beyond this program.

Program format

Each YAS writing series consists of five themed workshops and a public performance and writing gallery. Since ASU student mentors design breakout sessions based in part on their own interests and areas of expertise, the program takes a slightly different shape each year. Every workshop includes a journal activity, a choice of two breakout sessions, and check-in time with an assigned mentor. Revision strategies, performance tips, and goal setting are also integrated into the program.

Workshop 1: Narrative Forms

Possible Breakouts: six-word memoirs, short stories, novel planning, etc.

Workshop 2: Art and Comics

Possible Breakouts: graphic novel planning, art and design elements, superhero study, etc.

Workshop 3: Poetry and Music

Possible Breakouts: spoken word poetry, songwriting, haikus, etc.

Workshop 4: Film and Drama

Possible Breakouts: screenplays, storyboarding, film principles, etc.

Workshop 5: Genre Exploration

Possible Breakouts: science fiction, horror, memoir, etc.

Writing Gallery and Public Performance

Youth writers are invited to display their work and read a piece.

ASU student mentors meet with the director for several weeks before the YAS program begins and then before and after every YAS workshop. The ASU student mentors come from all disciplines, and no prior teaching experience is required. 

Young Authors' Studio: A Behind-the-Scenes Look

Mentors' guiding principles

  • We are a community of writers.
  • We honor diversity and encourage writers to draw on their languages and experiences.
  • Bringing writers of different ages together creates new learning opportunities. The youngest writer has something to teach the oldest writer in the group.
  • Young people engage in legitimate forms of writing outside of school (e.g., blogs, diaries, comics, videos, etc.) that support personal and academic growth.
  • Authentic audiences matter. We write to be heard. We have important ideas and stories to communicate.
  • Writers have the right to opt out of sharing their work.
  • We celebrate youth voices in a safe, supportive space.
  • We must “do no harm.” We will be positive, caring forces in writers’ lives.
  • As writers ourselves, we can empathize with the challenges students face when writing.
  • Writing should be meaningful.
  • Writers make choices.
  • Writing is fun!

Parent praise

“What a great way for young people to spend Saturday mornings! With all the sports programs offered around the Valley, it’s good to finally see a place where the next generation of future authors can practice their skills and network and learn!” – Elisa, parent

“As impressed as I am with all the young writers and their dedication, I am even more impressed by how well the mentors taught them. My daughter easily related back to me advanced writing concepts and structures that I discuss with seasoned writers and authors with years of experience. Well done all of you!” – Nick, parent

“I thought you all did an AMAZING job! The thing that stood out to me the most was that my son thought it would be incredibly boring, but it ended up being incredibly fun and he learned so much! He learned there were many writing styles and just because he wasn’t necessarily great at one, he was good at another. Thank you!!!” – Nancy, parent

“As a parent, I was very impressed with the thoughtful care put into all aspects of the course. The ‘creativity’ levels exceeded my expectations and introduced my son to several awesome writing techniques I had never seen before.” – Justin, parent 

“[My son] loves to write and I knew that he always liked to express himself. He liked the opportunity to write and interact with people. I think the studio is a great way to help youth develop confidence.” – Kathy, parent

Young Authors’ Studio in the news

“ASU Students Teach the First Young Authors’ Studio,” The State Press

“Young Authors’ Studio: Writing and Learning Together in Arizona,” Literacy Daily Blog


Choi, Y.N. (Sept. 2018). “How to Infuse Drama Techniques in Your Lesson: Towards Building a Community of Engaged Learners.” Voices from the Middle. Vol. 26, No. 1.

Williams, W.R. & Reid, S.F. (Jan./Feb. 2019). “Young Authors’ Studio: Writing and Learning Together in Arizona.” Literacy Today. Vol. 36, No. 4.


YAS Email:



Director: Wendy Williams, PhD

Assistant Professor of English

College of Integrative Sciences and Arts

Arizona State University