SILER CITY — The more than three dozen students who participated in a program at the Boys & Girls Club of Central Carolina’s Wren Family Center last summer have good reason to feel accomplished: beautifully illustrated, hardcover books bearing their names and containing their stories have been delivered, making each of them published authors.
The Write Brain Books program, which was held here last summer, began with prompts consisting of only titles matched with colorful illustrations.
“The rest was up to the students, each of whom chose a title and then used their imagination, knowledge or personal experience to compose a story,” said Joy Roberts, the club’s executive director.
Examples of titles included “Max and the Mouse,” “Owen and Edy,” “UFO Earth Attack” and “The Little Girl that Likes to Color.” Others invited stories about baseball or aquariums. Once finished, the books ended up 10 to 12 pages in length, and the students even had the option to dedicate their book to someone if they wanted to.
Participants in the project ranged from grade 3 to high school seniors.
After the students finished crafting their stories, the books were sent off to WRiTE BRAiN World to be processed and published. Just recently, the books in their final form were returned to the club where they are on display and serve as reading opportunities for club members — and lifelong memories for the young authors.
“Some of the students had really great imagination; others were not so enthused about writing at first, but the more they worked on it, the more they enjoyed it,” said Angela Glover, program leader at the club. “In the end, they were fascinated with it and very proud — the idea that they were published.”
Roberts and Glover are pursuing a way for the books to be shared at the Wren Library in town.
‘Engaged and excited’
Students expressed a variety of reasons for wanting to write the stories and how it made them feel.
“I wrote this book because I play baseball and that’s what my book is about,” said Wyatt Luna, age 9. Braeden Person, 9, said, “I wrote my book because I think aquariums are cool and I’ve never been to one.”
“Writing the book made me feel happy but it was hard and kind of sad because the lady killed the mouse because she was scared of it,” says Zariah Moore, also 9.
Taniya Snipes was thinking about her readers when she wrote “The Little Girl that Likes to Color.”
“I wrote this book because I wanted to let little children know not to let people push them around and to follow their dreams,” the 10-year-old said.
The writing project was initiated as part of the 21st Century Summer Program, a grant which focused on lost education from the school year affected by the COVID pandemic.
“Our students as well as parents reported positive feedback on the new information learned through our 21st Century Program implemented this year,” Roberts said. “Students became engaged and excited to learn various new forms of information, while parents showed their gratitude for the implementation of a program that provided needed knowledge and information lost from the previous school year.”
Nationally, students within the 21st Century Summer Program were shown to have improved in reading and/or math as well as in behavioral performance, according to Roberts.
WRiTE BRAiN World, now operating in 49 states, was founded by “Legally Blonde” and “Days of Our Lives” actor Meredith Scott Lynn, who serves as its CEO. She says she quit “a pretty good career” when she left acting with a desire to elevate the self-esteem of young people through “disguised learning experiences.”
“[This gives] the kids instant evidence of their creativity because creativity, met with positive response, increases self-esteem,” Lynn said.
Lynn praised the work of the Boys & Girls Club in Siler City, crediting it with providing a safe space and freedom for kids to learn in ways that don’t feel overly academic.
“Boys & Girls Clubs really get it,” Lynn said. “They don’t babysit; they provide enriching programs that inspire kids.”
The stated goal of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Carolina is to provide every child with the essential tools needed for a successful and bright future. Students who become members of the clubs — including a new club in Pittsboro — receive tutoring, computer training, sports education, homework help, mentoring, and more. In addition, members gain confidence by developing a sense of usefulness and belonging, and taking part in daily “Power Hour” homework sessions and programs like “Money Matters,” which teaches the basic financial concepts of banking, credit scores, and budgeting.
“I think it [The Write Brain Project] is something we’ll do again this summer,” said Glover.
The Club is now working on enrollment to see how many kids will be attending. The Boys & Girls Club at Wren Family Center’s summer program starts June 20. Deadline for enrolling is May 27.
Information about The Boys & Girls Club of Central Carolina at Wren Family Center can be found by visiting its website or by calling 919-663-6159.