Beginning in the New Year, the Kovler Family Library welcomed 35 new original novels written by students in 5th–12th grades as part of this year’s National Novel Writing Month project (NaNoWriMo) in November. These releases are the most recent additions to the more than 100 independent books published by students since Parker began participating in NaNoWriMo four years ago.
When Library Assistant Eric Rampson joined the school community in 2015–16, his colleagues encouraged him to find connections between his personal interests, students and the library’s resources. Rampson holds an MFA in fiction from The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and teaches at Chicago Story Studio, so he aimed to foster the fire of creative writing in Parker students by connecting them with the non-profit initiative NaNoWriMo and its twice-yearly challenge to compose an original novel in a month.
During the months of November and April, interested students gather in the Kovler Family Library during their lunch once a week to participate in a write-in, share ideas with their peers or work on creative writing activities. The intention of these gatherings is to be productive, but students always manage to enjoy themselves as well.
Rampson helps each student work through the creative process and use the NaNoWriMo Web interface to compose their work and track progress. The goal is a word count: 8,000 for 5th grade writers, 10,000 for students in Middle School and 12,000 for Upper School participants. While every student who begins the process doesn’t finish their novel, Rampson is always impressed with the quantity and quality of work produced by Parker’s student writers.
Some students have published multiple novels in a single year, participating in both the fall and spring initiatives, while others try out the process for a book or two, then choose to spend their free time on another activity of interest. All students who finish a novel receive two printed copies—one for their home library, and one for the Kovler Family Library to entertain and inspire future generations of Parker authors.
You can view a slideshow featuring the covers of many novels published by Parker authors here.