I have just seen the BBC project called ‘500 Words’.  It is a scheme to encourage children to write stories. This seems a great idea to get youngsters to use their imagination and practice writing in a creative way and in so doing letting their imaginations takes flight. In our modern society it is all too easy to avoid any extended writing. Email correspondence has largely replaced letter writing. Mobile phones enable us to talk to friends rather than write to them. There is something nice in receiving a letter.  It can be read more than once and shows that the writer has taken time and trouble to connect with us. 

Advertising has seen the English language distorted. TONITE is one such example.  The ability to write simple sentences is a skill worth preserving in future generations. My own school experience seems to have been very different from my own children. From the age of 11 I was required to write at least one essay every week for the next six years. My generation had these essays marked each week. This rigour did not do us any harm but gave us the confidence to communicate via the written word for the rest of our lives. 

Modern communication may well be much quicker than in the bad old days of snail mail. However that is debatable. Many interactions now require you to complete information by filling in a form on line. This usually means having the correct pass word.  Then there is the reference number to find.  If you do not have access to a computer you are locked out of the system. 

Story telling is a critical part of the lives of children. Engaging them in creating their own versions is an excellent idea. As a busy father most of my time with my own children was getting home in time for them to go to bed.  One of the great joys of being a parent was time spent reading bedtime stories to them. There was one story about a bird who would say ‘pink pink’. My son loved this and would request it repeatedly.  In my tired end of working day state I would try to skip read bits but was never allowed to do so as he was well aware of every part of the story. 

My own children enjoyed it when I made up stories for them. Frequently I would ask them to name an animal and from there I would be challenged to tell a story based on that particular creature. The one that they remembered well into adulthood was one about Sydney Snail.

The queen lived in a castle. All the animals in the forest brought her presents for her birthday.  Monkeys brought nuts gathered upon the forest floor. Others brought flowers. The bees brought honey. However what was poor old Sydney to bring. He lived in the dirt and the other animals mocked him because he had no chance of matching their lovely presents. That night as everyone else was fast asleep except the wise old owl Sydney slowly crawled up the castle wall. When he reached the window of the bedroom in which the Queen was fast asleep he began to weave a giant spiders web. All night he worked until just before sunrise.  As dawn broke he retreated down the wall just as the Queen opened her bedroom curtains. The sun beamed through the web which looked like a magnificent jewelled necklace. Of all the presents the Queen had received it was this one that she said was the most beautiful of them all. Nobody laughed at Sydney after that. 

There is a moral to be gained from this story.  We all have talents to offer the world. ‘Once upon a time’ is the start of a story. We all need to create our own version. Happy writing.