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“I won’t won’t be writing”: young authors enact meaningful work


The article considers the beliefs and practices of elementary-aged children who write for personal fulfillment. Mobilizing Lips-Wiersma’s (Lips-Wiersma & Morris, 2011) notion of meaningful work, I examine the ways in which these children experienced writing and sharing their work in a voluntary after school writing workshop and at home. Data are gathered from observations of the children as they wrote and shared their ideas with peers, from interviews in which they conveyed their beliefs about and experiences with writing, and from the varied texts they composed surfaced the core aspects of meaningful work: self-development, self-expression, and unity with others. The children were aware of their individual needs as writers, they were delighted in the opportunity to control their writing activities, and they interacted with peers and family members as they produced texts.

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Correspondence to Elizabeth L. Jaeger.

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Appendix 1. Interview protocol

Part 1

  • About specific text: Tell me about what you have written. Follow up, as needed:

    • Would you like to read part of your writing to me?

    • Why did you write it?

    • Where did you get the idea?

    • Why did you pick this particular piece to show me?

Part 2

  • Tell me about what writing is like for you. Follow up, as needed:

    • When did you first start writing?

    • Why do you write?

    • What things do you like to write? Stories? Poetry? In a journal or diary? Information reports? Letters? Email/text messages? Lists?

    • Close your eyes and make a picture in your mind of you writing in your favorite spot. What is it like there? What time of day is it?

    • What do you use when you are writing? Pen? Pencil? Computer?

    • Do you think writing is easy or hard?

    • When you grow up, how much do you think you’ll write?

    • Do you save the things you write?

  • Tell me about yourself as a writer. Follow up, as needed:

    • How good of a writer do you think you are?

    • How good of a writer to others think you are?

    • What makes someone a good writer?

  • Tell me about writing with others and sharing your writing with them. Follow up, as needed:

    • Do you like others to read, or listen to you read, your writing? If so, who?

    • Do you like to read other people’s writing?

    • What do other people say about your writing?

  • Do you have any writing plans right now?

  • What other thoughts can you share with me about the role of writing in your life?

Appendix 2. Code book

Table 1 Code book

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Jaeger, E.L. “I won’t won’t be writing”: young authors enact meaningful work. AJLL (2022).

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  • Writing
  • Elementary school
  • Meaningful work
  • Autonomy
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration