Young Writers Group Finds Inspiration, Voice at the Library

Libraries have always been a comfortable retreat for writers. You see them working quietly at tables, nestled into corners with their laptops and notebooks, crafting the next great American novel or book of poetry. The quiet solitude of the library is welcoming and relaxing. But, sometimes a writer really needs to make a bit of noise and interact with fellow wordsmiths.

Did you know the Poudre River Public Libraries offer writers that quiet space to work and places to gather as a small group and discuss their writing? Plus there are loads of books, programs, and writing contests available for young writers!Idea33_Regeneration-horz

Over the past few summers, one young writers’ group has been making use of Old Town Library to meet up, read and critique each other’s work, and learn more about being writers.  The group is guided by local author and 3rd grade teacher Sheala Henke who began the young writer’s group in 2012 with her Bennett Elementary students after many of them became interested in the young adult sci-fi novel she was writing at the time, IDEA 33: A Regeneration. (She has since also published IDEA 33: Revolution)

“The kids had questions about my book and were interested in learning what it took to become an author. They really wanted to know, ‘How do I do that, too?’” Sheala explains. Enough students were interested that she decided to create an after-school writers’ group at Bennett to immerse her students in writing and at the same time talk about the writing process.

Once school let out for the summer, it was natural for the young writers to begin meeting at Old Town Library. “The library serves as an amazing bridge between the kids and literacy,” she explains. “It opens doors to a magical world of books and writing. And it’s a free, family-friendly community resource!”


The student writers, ages 8-14, met every week in a library meeting room so they could read their work aloud, talk freely, and collaborate using the room’s technology and Smartboard. The group’s meet-ups are best described as “very organic and creative” with everyone having an equal say in the group’s direction and activities, and more experienced writers mentoring the newer authors.

One of the group’s participants, Davis Davalos, describes his experience at Old Town Library. “Being at the library, we could always find so many resources to help us with our own ideas. I have a whole different view of how books are written and how ideas move from thinking about them to getting them on the page.”


Library Resources for Young Writers

The three Poudre River Public Library locations provide support and inspiration for young writers (and writers of all ages, really) beyond just offering computers, technology, and small group meeting/study rooms.

There are tons of materials dedicated to writing available through the online catalog. No matter what type of writing you’re interested in, or how much experience you have, there’s a book for you. Check out a few of the available titles:

  • Poetry Matters:Writing a Poem from the Inside Out by Ralph Fletcher
  • Rip the Page! Adventures in Creative Writing by Karen Benke
  • Seize the Story: a Handbook for Teens who Like to Write by Victoria Hanley
  • This is Not a Writing Manual: Notes for the Young Writer in the Real World by Kerri Majors
  • What do authors doby Eileen Christelow
  • You Write It: Graphic Novels by John Hamilton

Writers might also be interested in upcoming programs and events at the libraries:

  • “Spirited Stories” flash fiction writing contest (ages 12+, YoungWritersGroup_BookendsShowsubmissions September 1-19),
  • Writing workshops,
  • Library-hosted book clubs and do-it-yourself Book Club Kits,
  • Teen IRS: Interesting Reader Society,
  • Bookends TV show hosted by teen readers and writers,
  • Teen Anime Club,
  • Battle of the Bards annual poetry competition (April), and
  • NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, activities (November)

More information about these and other great programs can be found on our Library Events page and online calendar or by calling 221-6740.

If you’re interested in reserving one our various meeting rooms for your writing group, book club, or other organization, visit the Meeting Rooms page on our website or call 221-6740.


Young Writers Speak

For many of the young writers, they don’t HaydenPremember a time that they didn’t enjoy reading and writing. So it was a natural progression to join a writing group.

“Ever since I was little I wanted to write,” explains Hayden Puttlitz, a participant in the young writers group. “I can’t explain it really; it was just something that I’d always wanted to do.”

Hayden has won various writing contests including twice in the Fort Collins Reads essay contest. Her poem, “Every day,” was featured on Greenworldsbooks in 2015.

Every day
Every day when we go to bed we have scars covering our faces,
It all conceals us in a jar,
And takes us over.
When you wake up the next morning you have a chance to heal,
To go the fair way,
And not just take the shortcuts,
To catch a drop slipping down someone’s face,
And turn it into something the flowers can feed on,
And make it beautiful,
A second chance to cross out the mess of a drawing you drew,
To color in the rainbow that is only black and white,
To feed a child who is half- starved,
You have to owe something to the world every day,
If it’s only one small hug,
Or something big,
Like giving money to someone on the streets,
But if you don’t,
Soon all of the owing will weigh on you,
And hold you down in the water,
Not letting you float back up.
Every day’s a new beginning.