I have a crush on Dave Eggers. Sigh. His list of literary accomplishments is one thing; his life story-so-far - a tale of heartbreak, resilience and aspiration - is another; but the real clincher for me is 826 Valencia.
826 Valencia is a writing studio in San Francisco dedicated to supporting kids between the ages of 6 and 18 with their writing skills and helping teachers to get their students fired up about the literary arts.
Eggers and his mate Ninive Clements Calegari founded the centre in 2002, which has grown since then to include seven chapters across the United States, under the not-for-profit umbrella 826 National.
Some of the great things the Centres offer kids are writing workshops, drop-in tutoring, field trips and student publishing in all kinds of formats and new media.
Field trips you may ask? They sound really cool - check this out:
"Storytelling and Bookmaking
This is our most popular field trip. Students are charged with the task of writing, as a group, a story, with the help of 826 volunteers. While the students decide on character and plot points, an 826 volunteer is typing the story into a computer, which is projected onto the wall. The students can track the story’s progress, and make corrections as needed. Meanwhile, the story is being illustrated by a professional artist. As the pages are finished, they’re being copied — one set for each student — and collated in our back production room. Thus, as soon as the class finishes creating the story, we’re ready to bind the books with our in-house tape bindery. The students illustrate their covers, add their photo to the back (for an About the Author page), and go home with personalized books created as a class. This field trip teaches students about collaboration, self-editing, the bookmaking process, and elements of successful storytelling. And it’s really a good time for all. Recommended for students 7–11 years old."
Sounds awesome. I want to go! (Even if Dave himself can't make it..)
Oh, and the San Francisco Centre also has a Pirate Supply Store, perfect for those swashbuckling, seafaring essentials every great storyteller needs.