Colby Sharp is a nerd and proud of it. In his new book for kids 8 to 12, The Creativity Project: An Awesometastic Story Collection (Little, Brown, 2018), the fifth grade teacher in Parma, Michigan, combines the creativity of many authors and artists to prompt young writers to discover just how creative they can be.
“School is such a busy place, and we have so much that we need to cover,” says Sharp. “But I made a resolution this year to make a creative start to the day. The bell rings at 8:25 a.m., and the kids have until 9 a.m. to make whatever they want. They can create an arcade game out of cardboard; they can create a story with paper and pencil or on a computer; they can create podcasts, stop-motion videos; they can draw or code or whatever they want. It has become one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done in my classroom.”
Sharp has been a classroom teacher since 2006. In 2011, he started the Nerdy Book Club blog with a friend, Donalyn Miller. He also co-hosts The Yarn, a podcast with teacher-librarian, Travis Jonker. And Sharp is involved with the Nerd Camp Michigan team that hosts a free literacy event in Parma every summer.
When parents ask him how to encourage creativity in their children, Sharp has some advice.
“Start by not having any television in the bedroom. That’s huge. One of the biggest times that kids read is before bed. If there’s a TV, they’ll watch that instead of reading. But it’s the same thing as what I did in class — you need to make time for creativity. Kids are running, running, running, but the family should build in time for creativity together, even if it’s just one day a week.”
The Creativity Project includes short stories, verse, comics, and art pieces ranging in genres from humor to horror by 44 popular children’s authors and artists. It also features writing prompts suggested by the stories, poems, and images. Readers can also react to comments about them by the contributors themselves. Their bios are at the end of the book.
Sharp and several contributors to The Creativity Project spoke at Bookbug in Kalamazoo in March 2018.
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