Grandfamilies and Brainstorming With a Second Grader

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Photo courtesy of Westmoreland Stables

There is a growing trend in America—grandparents raising grandchildren. According to the AARP’s Grandfacts, “Across the United States, almost 7.8 million children are living in homes where grandparents or other relatives are the householders, with more than 5.8 million children living in grandparents’ homes and nearly 2 million children living in other relatives’ homes. These families are often called grandfamilies.”

I don’t always talk about my personal life, but I have one. Just like you, I have good days and bad days. Last summer our family went through a difficult time as we struggled to help our son’s family with illness and unemployment. One of the bright spots during that time was the gift of helping out with our granddaughters–seven-year-old Alanna, and two-year-old Addison.

Although it was difficult, I looked for ways to stay positive and trust that God was in control. I decided to share my writing life with Alanna and together we wrote a children’s chapter book.

I never expected the results.

Alanna created a character–Seven-year-old Emily Clair, but she said she wanted her to be called Eclair. Alanna had no idea what an eclair was, but through the process of writing our first book together she learned what an eclair was and much more, but so did I.

This is how the story starts:

My name is E. Clair. The E stands for Emily, but my friends call me Clair. Sometimes Dad calls me Éclair. He says éclairs are like donuts, soft and sweet, just like me. And their insides are yellow like the color of my hair.

During our story writing sessions, I learned to listen and trust Alanna’s ideas. The more we worked together the more creative she became. And who knows better what second graders like to read than a second grader?

Sometimes brainstorming with a child can be a blast and spark ideas you hadn’t thought of –especially if you’re writing a children’s book. If you choose to do this, keep an open mind and listen to the possibilities children create. Children are uninhibited by industry standards, trends, or society.

Learn from THEM.

The second book in our series is about Anselina, a little girl who comes to the farm and makes friends with Eclair. Anselina brings a Gypsy Vanner horse with her–(a horse who looks similar to the one in the photo above). This horse, Gypsy, brings magic to the farm and Eclair’s life.

Here’s a little peek at how our brainstorming sessions go. We’re now writing the third book in the series.

The first two books are being shopped around to major publishing houses.

Although we are not raising our granddaughters, for a short period of time we had a glimpse of what it would be like to have them living with us.

We pray our books will bring laughter to children, grandparents, and parents who are often faced with difficult times.

If you’d like to watch our brainstorming session please click HERE.

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  1. Joann Claypoole says:

    Thank you, Michelle, for sharing this video with us. Alanna is a terrific brainstorming partner! Now you have ideas for book 3 and 4 too. It was great to finally see her after we shared so much about our stories at the Lake Yale Conference. Can’t wait till we can get together again. 🙂

    • Hi Joann–Thanks for watching our little video and reading my post today! I think if you and I were together more often we’d have all kinds of stories plotted, wouldn’t we?


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