“Not only do you get to experience the fun and satisfaction of creating a book in collaboration with others, but it only takes a day!”
“And, as a bonus, all funds raised help to support childhood cancer research. Well, what are you waiting for? Get writing!” urged Griffiths.
Write a Book in a Day is a creative and challenging team competition for students in years 5 to 12. Teams of up to ten have just twelve hours to write and illustrate a book from start to finish.
To make it even more fun, unique parameters must be included in the story. Funds raised through sponsorship all go to The Kids’ Cancer Project, an independent national charity funding childhood cancer research.
Children write for sick kids
Now in its seventeenth year, the competition was founded by Chris Oakeley a professional writer and editor from The Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre in Greenmount, Western Australia.
“In 2002, we wanted to raise money for the restoration of Katharine Susannah Prichard’s house, and for [what was then the] Princess Margaret Hospital for Children,” said Oakeley. “We were writers, so it seemed the natural thing to start a competition to write, illustrate and bind books in 12 hours and get people to sponsor us.”
“People said at the time we were mad. You can’t write and illustrate a book in 12 hours. They said, “It takes years to write a good book”, and so on and so on, but we proved them wrong, just as all who participate prove them wrong year after year writing even better books,” said Oakeley.
Once restoration of the Prichard home was complete, all monies raised went to The Kids’ Cancer Project with a mission to fund scientific research to find kinder, more effective treatments for many types of childhood cancer.
So successful has the fundraising aspect of the competition been that in 2018 alone, it raised $245,000 to help kids with cancer.
But there’s an additional philanthropic side to this story. Books written by participants are distributed to children’s hospitals around the country.
“It is truly amazing that, since Write a Book in a Day started 17 years ago, teams all over Australia have written 4,563 books for children’s hospitals,” said Oakeley. “That is an amazing achievement and gift to sick children.”
Considering the small communal beginnings of the fundraising event, Oakeley is impressed at how far reaching it has become.
“We now have teams from as far afield as Christmas Island and from the Katherine School of the Air in the Northern Territory with team members up to 1,500 kilometres apart collaborating via the internet,” he said.
High praise for the competition
Every year, Oakeley encourages as many students to participate in the competition as possible.
“Writing well is fundamental to success in the jobs they’ll be working in in the future, despite advances in technology,” he said. “It gives me great pleasure to see the quality of the writing in this competition and I admire every young person who gets involved. Their minds, properly applied, especially in a team, can beat a computer at any time.”
There is also a growing number of teachers who, like Doug Grubert a Tasmanian educator, coordinate multiple teams to enter the competition year after year.
In 2018, Grubert enrolled 36 teams in the Launceston area because he sees value in the activity on an intellectual and social level.
“The fact that young people are invited to write books to be placed in children’s' hospitals and that they’re also raising money for kids with cancer contributes to the authenticity of this program,” Grubert said.
“The world can be seen as a very superficial place at times, especially through social and mainstream media. There is a need for us to model character strengths that demonstrate care, concern, charity and empathy,” he said.
“Write a Book in a Day is the epitome of twenty-first century learning. It requires teamwork, communication, collaboration, literacy skills, problem solving, technology skills, compromise, it is real world, it is time sensitive, it is multi-faceted. The skills are transferable to other disciplines or aspects of life,” he said.
And it builds self-esteem as Victoria Valencia-Esguerra of St Mary St Joseph Primary School Maroubra discovered when she entered one team for the first time last year.
“Write a Book in a Day was such a great experience for the girls. They had a great day brainstorming ideas, writing, and illustrating their story,” said Valencia-Esguerra. “The biggest thing was the realisation that they all had particular skills in each part of the creative process, which meant they all felt their contributions were valued. And it was all for a great cause!”
Teachers with students in years 5 to 12 who are keen to get their students involved only need to register their school and select a writing day and follow the online prompts from there. But they are urged to hurry as the competition closes on Saturday 31 August.
Have a question about the competition, get in touch with the team on 02 8394 7711 or firstname.lastname@example.org