A “Blast from the Past!” Workshop Authors Share Their Experience

We asked some of our co-authors and their parents to comment on their experience during the workshop. Here are their responses:


Julia LaBelle
co-author of We’re Moving!

What memories do you have of the workshop and surrounding events?
I remember really enjoying writing this book. I got to do the workshop with friends that I am still very close with now. I recall getting to stand up and have other students make suggestions for the book that I could act out.
What was your favorite part(s) of the project?
When the book was released, we got to see pictures of ourselves printed in the back. It was really cool to see pictures of us and our names in an actual published book that people worldwide could read!
How did the workshop and book-writing process affect you?
It helped me learn to work in a team and it also helped my creativity flow. I was very interested in creative writing at the time, so this was a lot of fun and a great outlet.
Your current and future plans?
I am currently a sophomore in the University of Illinois Business Honors Program, but I am in the process of transferring to the College of Engineering Electrical & Computer Engineering department. I am in the Campus Honors program, and am a member of the Business Council Philanthropy Committee and the Business Honors Student Board. During the school year, I have a job as the manager of the College of Business Tutor Program. During the summer I have a job at Johnson Engineering, a private electrical engineering firm, where I am an assistant to the head engineer. I am pursuing a degree in electrical/computer engineering, with a minor in business, and in the future I hope to be an electrical engineer.
Final thoughts?
It sounds like a really great project and I wish I could be more of a part of it! Thanks for the blast from the past!

Jesse Trieger
co-author of We’re Moving!
(pictured with younger sister)

What memories do you have of the workshop and surrounding events?
I was excited by the opportunity to become a published author at the young age of 7. I truly felt like I was a part of the story and that our contributions to the book were given honest consideration by the WeWrite staff. They found ways to excite us about writing and succeeded.
What was your favorite part(s) of the project?
My favorite part of the project included brainstorming about the alien family and connecting to the characters we created. I also enjoyed doing the illustrations and exploring the moving truck for inspiration.
How did the workshop and book-writing process affect you?
It made me understand that when kids work together they can produce something that rivals anything an adult can make.
Your current and future plans?
I am moving to Santa Clarita, California to continue my study of cinematography and have hopes to attend UCLA for Film/Television.

Morgan Williams
co-author of We’re Moving!

What memories do you have of the workshop and surrounding events?
I thought it was pretty cool that we had the opportunity to write a book together, even at such a young age.
What was your favorite part(s) of the project?
My favorite part of the project back then was actually when we drew the pictures. I believe they were of our favorite parts of the book, and my picture was of the younger girl character.
How did the workshop and book-writing process affect you?
It allowed me to experience the type of critical thinking that authors use when writing. I am glad that I was able to participate.
Your current and future plans?
Currently a student at Berklee College of Music, majoring in Vocal Jazz Performance. In the future, I plan to teach English as an Assistant Language Teacher in Japan.

Becky Aud Jennison (Rachel Otwell’s mother)

You were involved with the writing workshops for kids before WeWrite came to be, correct?
And what sort of things were you doing with kids back in those days?
I recall that we would go into a classroom and workshop a topic with the children and they would develop illustrations and words for their book.
And what kind of reception did you get from kids and parents?
I recall the children being very excited … especially towards the end when they could see their ideas were going to come to fruition.
Your own kids, including myself, were involved in the writing workshops. Did you see any benefits?
Well for us and our family I think it was just one more spoke on the literacy wheel of trying to &hellip have our children be involved in reading and writing. So I think it was probably just very validating for a lot of the writing and creating that they had already been involved in.
And what kind of skills do you think writing workshops for children help kids hone in on?
Well probably the most important skill that I would see is empowering them to know that they can accomplish anything. Most children aren’t walking around thinking that they might be involved with publishing a book, and I think it’s a concrete example for them to see that if you put your mind to it and your creativity to it you can accomplish what you’d like.
Was there a lot of team building/teamwork going on?
Yes, in fact there was. The children surprisingly worked well together and seemed to feed off of each other’s ideas rather than argue or have disagreements about it.
What do you hope for the future of WeWrite?
I’m happy to hear that it’s still going strong and it would be nice if it continues and exposes as many children as possible. I would especially like to see it … be an experience that under-privileged children could experience that may not otherwise get to be involved in such an activity. I think it’s very valuable.

Brian Ottwel (Rachel Ottwell’s Father)

How did you get involved in the original writing workshops for kids?
Well Delores came to Rochester Elementary School (in Rochester, Illinois) and talked to the teachers, your teacher in the first instance, and then we got some materials sent home from school and we thought it sounded like a great idea so we signed you up.
What about the idea appealed to you?
Well, it was of course you and then later your brother (who) were extremely creative children and we thought it would be fun to see what that creativity would produce in connection with the other kids that were involved in the writing of the WeWrite book.
What kind of feedback did you get from us at the time?
As I recall you guys were excited about it and looking forward to working collaboratively with the other children in the class and coming out in the end with an actual book. You were interested in reading books at the time of course, so you thought it would be fun to be a part of something that you could hold in your hands and show other people and so forth.
Do you think it helped with our self confidence as kids - to have accomplished being part of collaboration towards writing our very own book?
…Yeah I think that it helped you to realize that you had talent in that area, and that led to some self confidence I’m sure.
Did you talk to other parents about the writing workshops and see what they were saying about it?
I remember we talked to some of the other parents once the finished product was out and they saw it and everyone was impressed by it and thought it had been a valuable program.
And what about the feedback from the people who you shared the book with?
Well of course your grandparents for instance and other family members who saw it were very complimentary and that’s what I remember.
What do you think of WeWrite’s mission to hone in on the imaginations of children?
Well I think it’s a great idea, I mean children have all the imagination in the world - young children especially. They haven’t been programmed to have that creativity stifled yet at a young age and so they’re free to express themselves in a way that, as you mentioned, leads to self-confidence and something they can be proud of, and I would suspect leads children who may not be as interested in reading to develop that kind of an interest when they’ve been able to be part of authoring a book themselves.