Summer art for youth – Young Writers Institute

This spring we are profiling youth serving arts organizations that offer programs for kids and teens this summer.

I spoke with Andrea Holm, acting director of the UA Writing Skills Improvement Program, opens a new window about the summer program they hold every July, the Young Writers Institute, opens a new window. The University of Arizona has been facilitating writing programs for high school-age youth for over 40 years and the Young Writers Institute has been part of their efforts for the last five years. It’s designed to build the skills and confidence of young writers with all levels of writing proficiency.

The Young Writers Institute engages youth with lessons and hands-on activities that include field trips (virtual this year) to museums and libraries. Youth write reflective essays and short stories about what they experience. The curriculum focusses on academic writing skills but the students’ work reflects many different genres of writing. The Institute serves a variety of high school-age youth including homeschoolers and international students.

There are no grades on student work; the focus is using peer-feedback as building blocks to success. “It’s not about good or bad, right or wrong,” Holm said. “It’s about sharing your writing with your peers and getting pointers about what works and what doesn’t.” Through this process, over the course of three weeks, youth develop friendships. In fact, in addition to building skill and confidence, one of the main goals of the program is community building, Holm said.

The program culminates in an open reading where the youth share their work. Many teens who are reluctant to share at the beginning are enthusiastic by the end of the process.  

Find more information, opens a new window about the Institute and their application process.

Find out what the library is planning, opens a new window for tweens and teens this summer.

Places to find/submit teen writing:

by Matt L., Assistant Manager, Woods Memorial Library