826 Boston Created a Living Storybook That Anyone Can Write In
Attention all aspiring authors, elementary school kids, imaginative souls, and everyone in between. There’s a living storybook at WriteSomething.org you can write in, adding as much or as little to the story as you want. And—it’s entitled The Abominable Snow Kitten.
Created in part by 826 Boston, the children’s literacy nonprofit founded by author Dave Eggers, visitors on WriteSomething.org can add a word, a sentence, or a paragraph to the story, and continue to watch it unfold by providing a Twitter handle or email address.
Putting your spin on the story takes enough wit to follow sentences like, “Harold, I’m going to yoga with some of the yaks.”
“There are these moments where there’s Harold playing with a puppy, and a moment later they’re in another cosmos and it’s like intergalactic warfare. Then it comes back,” says Daniel Johnson, Executive Director of 826 Boston.
The local 826 arm is fronted by the Bigfoot Research Institute in Roxbury’s Egelston Square, where you can find everything from unicorn tears to box and stick traps. Behind the institute, though, is 826’s writing center, where children 6 to 18 are provided with free writing and tutoring programs. Johnson explains 826 excites students about writing by giving them one-on-one support, introducing them to books they like, and then asking them to write their own.
A group of students at 826 came up with some of the chapter titles for The Abominable Snow Kitten, including “The Cat Napping at the Art Museum,” “The Floating Magical Chasm,” and “Kidnapping My Mom.”
“There’s a lot of kidnapping it seems,” jokes Johnson. “It’s not something we promote!”
The Abominable Kitten launched in early December 2015. It has 41 published entries, more than 26 authors, and 15,976 characters written as of this week. 826 tested the story-writing platform last year with a story entitled Greg the Sentient All-Seeing Ornament.
Kristin Barrali, 826 Boston’s Development Director, hopes WriteSomething.org can reintroduce 826 to the Greater Boston community.
“We’re trying to promote creativity and writing,” she says. “And it’s a way for somebody to just get in there with what we’re trying to do.”