Unlike most children who either go to the park or play video games on weekends, Annie Vodarick, 7, spent her Saturday morning inside the Harker Heights Activities Center thinking up a fairy tale that involved a little girl and her mom in a magical kingdom.
“I wrote a story about a king that said, ‘a dragon should get out of their village,’” she said. “Instead, the king was eaten by the dragon, and a little girl was screaming like crazy just because the dragon ate the king.”
Her story became part of the stack of several other working ideas that nearly 35 grade school students drafted during the Young Authors and Illustrators Conference hosted by the Heights library.
Children’s librarian Jeanine Madden said this is the first year the conference was held in Heights.
“This is a really good opportunity for kids not only to get excited about illustrating and writing, but to take part in something that’s like an adult program with a conference style setting,” she said.
Library clerk Rose Ramon, one of the presenters, led a portion of the breakout group sessions and exercises on humorous writing.
“I had to do a lot of research,” she said. “Something that might be funny to me might not be funny to you and there’s just different levels, and with children especially it’s a lot more difficult.”
The kids also learned the steps to develop a story from scratch by first creating a storyboard
“It was really fun,” said Hannah Gessner, 9. “Before you write a book you can draw boxes and put pictures and the text underneath to create the books.”
Aside from writing independent short stories that include humor, adventure and mystery, the children also got the chance to meet two published book authors and learn how each got their big breaks.
“I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from the stories … they become really engaged in what they want in the story with the art process,” said Jazmine L. Swanson, author of “Angel Whisper.”
Melanie Chrismer, author of Phobe Clappsaddle and the Tumbleweed Gang, taught the young participants that every story has three parts - a beginning, a middle and an end.
“They have a lot of good ideas in those kiddoes who are future readers and writers, no matter what they do,” said. “But they listened really well, and they gave me ideas and we created a story right here.”
Madden said the library plans to make the youth conference an annual event.