Inspiring young writers: Children’s author shares tips, ideas for enhancing skills


Story and photo by Karl Weisel
U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Public Affairs Office

Jen K. Blom, author of “Possum Summer,” talks about telling and illustrating stories during a workshop at Hainerberg Elementary School.

Jen K. Blom, author of “Possum Summer,” talks about telling and illustrating stories during a workshop at Hainerberg Elementary School.

 

In what has become an annual tradition at Hainerberg Elementary School, students were inspired to expand their writing horizons thanks to a visit by a children’s book author.

Jen. K. Blom, author of “Possum Summer,” spent Jan. 14-18 at the school sharing and discussing tips on writing and illustrating with pupils in grades Sure Start through five.


“We’ve worked hard the last couple of years to find good ones,” said Tricia Benz, Hainerberg Parent Teacher Organization president, recalling a visit by well-known children’s author and wordsmith Brian P. Cleary in 2012.

“The teachers like this each year because it reinforces what they’re teaching as far as language enrichment and writing,” Benz said.

“They’re (the children) outstanding,” said Blom, “and everyone’s really well behaved. It has just really been a great experience.”

Blom, who hails from Oklahoma and lives with her husband and daughter in Berlin, said sharing her ideas about writing with the Wiesbaden Department of Defense Dependents Schools students was equally rewarding. “It’s inspiring to be around these kids. … They’re really outgoing.”

Benz, the mother of a third-grader at the school, explained that among the highlights of Blom’s workshop was her approach to story writing, picking a topic and illustration.

“I always wrote,” said Blom, about her development as an author. “I wrote my first picture book when I was in the sixth grade.”

Because of her daughter’s interest in horses, she has been inspired to write about that subject as well, she said, with her next book to be titled, “Blue Appaloosa.” She is also writing English-language books for a publisher to be used in German schools, she said.

Perhaps Blom’s most important lesson for her young students: “Read all the time and don’t let anyone tell you you’re not any good.”