Every boy has a great story.

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Boys Camp - Zack 9781629148052 Boys Camp 2 - Nates Story 9781629148069 - NEW Boys Camp - Zee (1)

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Joy of Words

Helping kids love language and ideas. How do we encourage this? Parents, teachers, counselors and everyone interested—we value your input.

Ann from Boys Camp: About ten years ago, when my little girls shared bunk beds, I was inspired by the magical poet Naomi Shihab Nye: she told of waking her children each morning by reading poetry aloud to them. I tried it out, and all my children still talk of how the poetry has mixed in with waking dreams. Not to mention the place it put me in, in my classic (and oft unrealized) ongoing parental effort to prioritize a thoughtful mindset over stress.) Try it out reading from Salting the Ocean—a book of poems written by children, with the support of Ms. Nye.

As for my son—my schedule has changed and I’m at work when he wakes up in the morning, so instead I enjoy reading poems aloud to him in the evening or the car (and having the girl read their old favorites). I ask him to rate them from 1-5, to encourage reflection and differentiation. Lots get an eight! But we’ve also had some twos. Interesting! My go to volume for this—I still have my brother’s dog-eared fourth grade copy (Room 9, Lombardy Elementary School)—Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle.

Inspiration from India: Here’s a note from a friend of Boys Camp, Nandita Kapadia-Kundu of Pune, India, who shares our passions:

Dear Boys Camp,

You’ve taken me back several years ago when I recorded my son Shantanu’s stories and poems as he “spoke” them. I have a collection of about 15 stories and 7-8 poems. I was looking at them right now and there’s a monster or super hero in every story and there’s lots of kindness too. These are stories/poems written when he was 3 and a half to 6 years old. He has an unfinished novel with 12 chapters when he was 7-9 years. Then I fell sick and our project stopped for a while.

More than anything, it was something we did together. Since I’ve always been a working mom, one night when Shantanu was about three, I said to him, “Mama’s very tired. Why don’t you tell me a story tonight?” To my amazement, he started telling me a story of his own, from his own imagination. Most children say wonderful things but we rarely record what they say. I have always planned to put Shantanu’s poems/stories together in a book to tell other parents to encourage their children to create their own stories. Since talking to you, I plan to do so, for sharing with others.