If you want to be a winner, you have to practice…that goes for basketball, or writing.

Forsythia  & Magnolia about to flower

Forsythia & Magnolia about to flower


I love this time of year.  The longer days.  The gorgeous blooms in my garden.  Watching excessive amounts of college basketball.  And – most importantly – choosing a winner for The Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Writing Contest. As in past years, I’ll be the judge for the grade four category.

Writing and March Madness basketball are two of my favorite passions. It’s true that writing is a solitary endeavor while basketball is very much a team sport. But, the two activities have a lot more in common than you might think. Both basketball and writing are based on practicing a set of skills, and both rely on participants mastering those skills.

Unlike college basketball coaches, I don’t expect perfection from the young writers from across Canada who submitted stories. However I do want to see some sense that they are starting to develop their writing skills. It’s easy to tell when a young writer has spent extra time at their writing. They’ve figured out the importance of story with a beginning, middle and end.  They’re starting to understand how to develop their characters.  And, they are better at using engaging and interesting language.  All these are indicators of time spent honing their craft.
While the NCAA is in the process of choosing their best teams to compete, I’ve narrowed my choice down to the top five stories. Soon, I’ll have picked a winner, and two runners up. If you end up winning the contest, congratulations.  If you didn’t, take the time to revise your story and make it stronger.  Keep practicing.  Keep writing more stories.  Keep working to get better at something you love.  You can bet that all those NCAA basketball players will be  out on the court honing their b-ball skills and getting better at doing something they love too!


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