Creative writing curriculum helps students tell stories

Sophomore Allie Franco, front left, and first-grader Kaylee Vitkowski, with Mar-li Pitcher, back row, right, with Mount Kisco Library Youth Services Manager Linda Surovich. Pitcher has developed a creative writing program for young children that she offers in four other county communities.

The importance of having young children interested in reading and writing can never be overstated. It’s even better when they like the activity.

Last month, Kaylee Vitkowski, a first-grade student from West Patent Elementary School, and Allie Franco, a second-grade student from Mount Kisco Elementary School, were able to complete writing and illustrating a book for children, “As Told by Allie and Kaylee: Adventures in Unicorn Land”. an anthology of five stories that the two girls teamed up to complete.

“We have the book in the (Mount Kisco) library,” Franco said. “We can show it to our friends. It’s really cool.”

The program that spawned the collaboration is called Take a Look, It’s in a Book, which meets Mondays at the Mount Kisco Public Library and is led by Mar-li Pitcher. Pitcher developed a creative writing program about five years ago called Writing Rainbow which she also presents at the Yonkers, Ossining and Pleasantville Parks and Recreation departments and at the John C. Hart Memorial Library in Shrub Oak.

Pitcher came up with the idea in April 2017 because she always wanted to be a writer growing up. She created the Writing Rainbow program which uses techniques to help young children use their imaginations and create original stories.

“It’s a course I would have taken if it existed at their age,” Pitcher said.

The program lasts for five weeks and each week they would write a different story.

Last month, the library held a special release ceremony for Kaylee and Allie’s work, so other visiting children could read and enjoy their stories.

Kaylee said she left much of the writing to Allie while she focused on the illustrations.

“I drew the posters because I love to draw,” Kaylee said. “I really didn’t need to write so much.”

Allie said she used personal experiences to help her come up with story ideas, such as when she and her family took a trip to the beach in New Jersey and about school.

Her father, Paul Franco, said that when he heard about the program, it seemed beneficial and seemed like a fun way to reinforce the importance of reading and writing. An unexpected benefit was that the two girls, who probably wouldn’t have met because they’re in different classes and at different schools, became friends.

“Mount Kisco has some great programs, and when Ms. Mar-li came and this program started, Allie was excited to try it, and then she befriended Kaylee and it was just wonderful, just a wonderful program,” he said.

Pitcher said she looks forward to what Kaylee and Allie can accomplish as they get older, as both girls are talented and have quick wits.

“She is extremely, extremely talented. I’m very, very proud,” Pitcher said. “I’m very proud of them both.”

Anyone in the public can view “As Told by Allie and Kaylee: Adventures in Unicorn Land” in the Mount Kisco Public Library Children’s Room.

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