As writers it is our “job” to play with words, sentence structures, and points of view. But as writers for children, it is our duty to play with the world around us. The holidays are approaching, and the publishing industry will take a pause. Could this be the perfect opportunity for you to step away from the desk and go establish a “play life” to fuel your writing life?
Some notable creatives credit their playful hobbies with keeping their well of artistic expression flowing and fresh.
In between composing jazz standards:
Miles Davis was an avid boxer and accomplished sketch artist.
Duke Ellington painted landscapes.
Louis Armstrong collaged with old concert flyers, programs, and photos.
Before and after writing classic literature:
Sylvia Plath tended to colonies of bees.
Emily Dickinson won baking contests.
Alice Walker still grows most of her own produce.
Research has also shown that engaging in hobbies outside of one's primary work or responsibilities can boost creativity. A study published in the journal "Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts" in 2017 found that participating in creative hobbies led to increased creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Suggesting that “playing” is not a distraction from writing, instead it is essential.
But no worries, I’m not suggesting you go to the local playground, frolic, and scare children. Unless that sounds like fun? There are plenty of ways adults and children at heart can find their perfect playscape.
Writing is a demanding and often solitary craft. And writing for young readers means we must constantly see the world from a perspective that is much different than our own. Playful hobbies become the perfect solution. Providing a break from writing problems, connecting us to a wider community, and helping us see the world through another lens. So, get out there (or stay in) and play. Your writing and your readers are depending on it!
Brentom Jackson is an award winning poet/writer, actor and psychotherapist in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. With poetic voice, theatrical flair, and socio-emotional expertise Brentom tells stories that explore the universal lessons within Black-American history and heritage. His debut picture book Elijah's Easter Suit with Doubleday/Penguin Random House is available for pre-order now. Follow him on all sociamedia @brentomjackson.
By Melissa Stoller
Pumpkins are everywhere! From pumpkin picking to pumpkin-spiced lattes and spooky pumpkin carvings, it is the season to enjoy this tasty treat. And there are many other ideas and activities also associated with October.
Here are a few seasonal prompts to help you make the most of your writing time this fall:
1. Think about your childhood and remember times where pumpkins featured prominently. Do you recall pumpkin picking? Or maybe you planned pumpkin-related adventures with family or friends. Choose one moment and write a few lines about the feelings associated with that experience.
2. What other fall treats do you enjoy? Apple picking? Making candy apples or apple crisps? Write about a scene in an apple orchard or anywhere else that reminds you of a favorite fall activity or treat.
3. Do you associate the fall with other types of adventures such as trips to watch the leaves change colors? Choose one special type of leaf or tree, or a fall color, and write a story that incorporates those images.
4. Of course, for those who celebrate Halloween, there are many ideas that can surface. Choose your favorite Halloween image and write a title, a line, or a story surrounding the holiday.
I hope these seasonal prompts help you fall into October ideas. Let me know in the comments!
Melissa Stoller writes to bring connection, joy, and a bit of magic to her readers. Her newest picture book, Hazel and Mabel: Two Hearts Apart, illustrated by Anita Bagdi, releases from Gnome Road Publishing in Fall 2025. Melissa is also the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection - Return to Coney Island, and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush; Ready, Set, GOrilla!; Sadie’s Shabbat Stories; Planting Friendship: Peace, Salaam, Shalom; and Building Bridges: Peace, Salaam, Shalom (co-written). Melissa is a Blogger for the Children’s Book Academy, a Rate Your Story Judge, a volunteer with SCBWI/MetroNY, a Book Meshuggenahs member, a Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center Advisory Council member, and a past school and Synagogue Trustee. She also interviews authors and offers resources on her blog. In other chapters of her life, Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer/editor, and early childhood educator. She lives in New York City with her family, and enjoys theatre, museums, and Central Park walks. Melissa is represented by Jonathan Rosen at The Seymour Agency.
CONNECT WITH MELISSA:
Mia loves her grandmother, but she is no ordinary grandma. She calls her Glamma, because she’s such a glamorous granny.
She doesn’t sit in a rocking chair all day but gets up to all sorts of exciting and energetic things from exercise class to experimenting with her hair, to online shopping and wearing glittery shoes. (I’m so this grandma in the making!)
Mia’s Glamma doesn’t do the regular thing that other grandma’s do, she does things with a lot more razzle, dazzle and flair. I love that in this story, she lives in ‘Mia’s house, surrounded by her family’. The author has used a clever tool when writing for children aged 3 and up, she uses the language a child would use. Making it all about Mia, her house and her family, children will relate to this clever technique.
I used to sew layered tutu skirts when my son was a baby. I had never really sewn before but I had always wanted a tutu skirt as a little girl, which was not a ‘thing’ in those days. I guess I saw this newfound passion as a chance to make other little girls dreams come true. My long-winded story brings about my love for the character that the illustrator Carla Hoffenberg has created in this story.
I would definitely have been a gum boot/ tutu skirt wearing little girl. And if you look at my wardrobe, I know I have the essence of Mia’s Glamma in my soul. When I grow up (eventually) I will carry this book under my arm to see how many other grandma’s I can turn into Glamma’s.
The sentence, ‘She doesn’t have time to be old - she’s too happy feeling young.’ is probably one of my favourite lines from this book and I will write it up and stick it all over my house as it is something I like to live by.
I absolutely adore the end pages.
The illustrations bring out Mia’s Glamma in her best possible way. Her exquisite facial expressions drew me in, each smile and wrinkle has a story of its own. The little twist at the end, in the illustrations, will leave you smiling.
I saw Glamma through Mia’s eyes and throughout the book I felt the love this little girl has for her grandmother. I don't just want to be a Grandma one day, I really hope to be a Glamma!
•Written by Josie Montano
•Illustrated by Carla Hoffenberg
•Published by Interactive Publications Pty Ltd, 2023
Amanda’s career as a worldly actress has been her favourite so far, she hopes
writing for children will be her next new favourite! In between, she’s taught English,
Drama and early childcare and now works with children with special needs, where
she bring her imaginative flair into the classroom, always dreaming of the being back
on the stage.
Amanda’s writes a variety of stories from those that are sensitive, humorous and
sometimes quirky with fairytale-esque elements. She hopes her books will influence
children to read and write their own wonderful stories. Being active in SCBWI, CBCA
NSW and a graduate of the Children's Book Academy keeps Amanda focused and
honing her craft.
Her debut picture book My Giant Sea Shell is now available.
Find Amanda here:
Or find her book here:
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with awesome Aussie debut author and former student Amanda Lieber who will be focusing on Aussie kidlit.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature our new blogger coming soon.
4th Mondays features new blogger, the fabulous Brentom Jackson, who has a beautiful approach to blogging.
And 5th Mondays we'll be taking a break