Friday, June 17, 2011

Review: 500 Writing Prompts for Kids

Without a doubt, the most challenging part of teaching creative writing classes and writing my own creative writing curriculum is coming up with writing prompts. Sounds like an easy enough thing to do, right? But those of us who thrive on creative writing want prompts that entice and get the writing glands salivating. We balk at prompts like, "Write three fun things you did this summer." Blah.

I was fortunate enough to receive a review copy of Bryan Cohen's 500 Writing Prompts for Kids. This is an absolute goldmine of writing prompts. Cohen has organized the prompts into 10 different categories: memorable events, imagination, relationships, activities, school days, technology, the seasons, life lessons, the outside world, and grab bag. Each of those categories has about 50 total prompts which are divided into subcategories. For example, within the activities category, there are prompts for athletics, the arts, writing, religion, and recreation.

These aren't ordinary, boring prompts, although some of the standards are included here ("What are some things you do for fun around your house or neighborhood?"). These are prompts that will really get the wheels turning. Here are a few I really like because I know my writing class kids would like them:
  • What is the first present you ever remember getting for your birthday? Was it exactly what you wanted? How often did you use it?
  • You wake up one morning to find that all of the figures from the major holidays have come to hang out with you. This includes Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Leprechaun and anyone else you can think of. What do you do with these magical holiday people during your day together?
  • All of your friends’ parents have gotten together and have decided to put you and all of your best friends into a beach house together for the entire summer. Describe at least three crazy adventures that you all have while living together.
  • Describe what a cartoon version of you would look like. Talk about your hair and your face and your clothes. What would your animated room look like? Tell every detail possible.
  • While looking through a regular library book, you find a recipe for a potion that turns anyone into a “nice person.” When you get back home, you mix together the ingredients and it actually works! What were the ingredients, how do you test the potion out and who do you use the potion on? Once you use it, how does it change your life?

This is a fantastic source for writing at home and in the classroom. I am going to be teaching creative writing again next spring, and I am already looking forward to pulling prompts for this book. With your own family, you can pull out a few prompts each week to write about, or just do one each week. Cohen includes an introduction and an appendix with fantastic ideas on how to use the prompts.

It is listed as for kids in first through fifth grades, but I'd say half of the prompts are geared more toward 5th grade and up. (This one, for example: "If you could pick one character to be your movie boyfriend or girlfriend, who would it be? What would it be like to share a smooch on screen with him or her?") For the most part, the prompts can be adjusted for younger or older kids. This could easily be the only writing prompts book you would need for all your kids, K-12.

You can buy a paperback copy at the amazon link above, or you can download the e-book here for only $2.99. Seriously, this is a fantastic deal for all these prompts!


  1. Thanks for the link. You can't beat $2.99! It looks like it will be a great resource for our writing this year.

  2. I need something like this. Sounds good!

  3. I ordered this and think is is the perfect lead in for some fun summer writing. Thank you for this recommendation. I have been looking for something like this for a long time!

  4. Thanks so much for the review, Sarah!

    - Bryan


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