In April, my 9-year-old daughter entered her first writing contest. She did not win, but I was, of course, proud of her none the less. Even though she did not win for her story, I wanted to share it with you because I was extremely impressed with the different stylistic elements she chose to employ. For example, she presented the thoughts of her characters in italics. When I asked her about her choice to do it in that way, she told me that’s how other authors did it. For me, that was a moment that confirmed the importance of reading in regards to writing, no matter what type of writing that may be.
The story that she submitted, “No Dad,” centers around a young girl named Rebecca. Her parents are divorced, and she lives with her father. However, her father has to work all of the time, so she remains at home by herself. She wants her father to come home and spend time with her, and that is where the conflict arises. The story is below, but before you read the story, make sure you check out the interview I conducted with her about reading and writing.
Note: I have done minimal editing to the interview and the story. I want her writing to appear in the way she wrote it.
When did you realize that you liked to read?
Well my parents read to me a lot when I was a little kid, and I really enjoyed it not just because I did it with my parents but because of the adventures in the books. This was ever since I was a little kid, and yet I still enjoy to read. I started to read on my own when I was in kindergarten. The first book that I remember was one my mom read to me The Boxcar Children. I really enjoyed it, yet some parts were a little confusing for a kindergartner to understand. I still liked it well, the parts I understood.
Why do you like to read?
I like to read because reading brings excitement to my world. There are really amazing books out there. I really like to read books with or without pictures, but more without pictures because I can play the whole scene in my head and act like I’m seeing it for myself even in fiction books with time travel and stuff like that. That’s why I like to read.
Have you always written stories?
Well you could say I’ve always written stories. The first story I wrote my mom and grandma wrote for me while I told it to them. I got the idea when I saw these Christmas stickers, so I wrote a sentence or told them to write a sentence for each caption when I told them what to write. So yeah I have always been writing you could say.
Why do you like to write?
I like to write because you know when you read you visualize stuff in your head about what’s going on well that’s one reason so I could be the person to write the story instead of just being the one who reads the story but the one who writes it as well. I also like being creative and thinking of things I could possibly write. Every time I’m supposed to do a writing assignment or a science journal where I’m supposed to write a paragraph about one specific topic I sometimes write 2 1/4 pages instead of half of one. So I pretty much always had that passion of writing whether it’s fiction or nonfiction.
What was the inspiration for “No Dad”?
Well my dad is sometimes out of the house, so I decided to write a story about a girl who takes care of herself due to her dad being gone for work. It also got to me that some kids have to stay home by themselves till their parents get home. So I thought about what that would be like. So, that’s how I got inspired to write “No Dad.”
Who is your favorite author? Why is this person your favorite?
My favorite author is Rolad Dahl. He writes hilarious books that are fun and entertaining.
What is your favorite book? Why?
My favorite book is Matilda by Roald Dahl. I like Matilda because it’s abut a young girl who loves to read and survives with a mean teacher and is friends with her other teacher and always is brave. It is just an amazing book to read.
Ultimately, what type of story do you want to write?
I would like to write a realistic fiction story, and I love to write stuff like that because there are many situations in life and that one book could help you out with a problem you could be facing so it gives you advice on something that is related or could be related to a situation of life.
Do you feel like you have something important to say? If so, what is it?
Yes, the thing that I have to say is don’t lie to someone and keep a promise because you can disappoint a person a whole lot.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to write a short story?
I would say to write what you know or what you want to write and make it your own.
I was staring out the window waiting for my dad to come home. I always do this to see if my dad will come home early. But he never does. But the thing I always wonder is why is he here in the morning and not in the afternoon?
My dad said to my mom that he worked at the local bank downtown, but I bet he’s somewhere else also. But why would he be gone that long?
Every day when I come home, I get the key from inside the plan pot and unlock the door.
I go inside quietly and take out my homework. I grad a healthy snack like carrots from the fridge. I sit down and do my homework. Since my dad still isn’t home, I fix myself a peanut butter sandwich. I go and watch TV when my favorite cartoon Garfield is on. After two shows, I stare out the window to see if he is home. If not, I go get a bath, brush my teeth, comb my hair, and get ready for bed.
But I stare out the window to see if my dad will come home. I grab my favorite stuffed animal Ella my soft elephant and tuck myself in bed.
When I woke up the next morning my dad was home eating the same meal Corn Flakes. This is the only time of day I see him which makes me sad.
He rarely speaks in the mornings. All he does is drink his coffee, eat his cereal, and read the daily newspaper. Then when I’m done getting dressed I grab my backpack and head outside for the bus. I tried saying goodbye, but he wouldn’t listen.
My friend Alika sat right next to me when I got on the bus. She saw my sad face, and she asked nicely “What’s wrong Rebecca?”
“Ok,” she said, “Just let me know if you wanna talk about it.”
I don’t think I would I thought. I mean Alika may be my best friend but yet I didn’t want to tell her. In fact I don’t want to tell anyone but my…“Dad!” then everyone on the bus stared at me or laughed like crazy. I had my mouth shut for the rest of the day.
When I got home, I did my regular routine: homework, had a snack, watched TV, had dinner, got ready for bed, went to sleep. But before I went to bed, I heard the door open.
I got out of bed and saw my dad was home earlier than ever.
How could this be? I thought Dad is never home early. What’s going on? Does he have bad news? Are we moving? Did someone die? Am I in trouble for taking the class pet out of the cage? I mean Pola wanted to go walk around for a minute so I gave her that minute then got in trouble or caught I should say.
“Dad please don’t ground me,” I said.
“For what? You didn’t do anything wrong, well not that I know of.”
“Then why are you here? I’m not in trouble. So are we moving?”
“Rebecca, honey what would give you that idea?”
“Well then why are you home so early?”
“Sweety,” he laughed, “I don’t always have to be at work everyday for like 16 hours.”
“Then why are you?”
“You know when your mom and I got divorced?”
“Well now I’m the only one in this house with a job, so I have to work longer to keep this roof over our heads. But the past couple of days I had a sick feeling inside, so I thought I should never leave you home alone ever again.”
“Thanks dad,” I cried.
“Well you are more important to me than my work.”
“And you are more important to me, more than anything,” I said to dad.
“Well tomorrow we will have a daddy-daughter day. And you and me a whole day, no interruptions.”
“I love you dad.”
“And I love you Rebecca.”
“Will you leave again,” I asked.
“No I won’t?”
“Are you sure?”
It was 3 days later, and I woke up that morning running in the kitchen to give dad a big hug. But he left me here all alone. I found a note on my backpack saying…
Sorry had to head to work. I packed your favorite lunch to cheer you up. Have a good day. Love you Rebecca.
Hugs and kisses.
I cried over the paper as hard as I’ve ever cried. “My dad promised me he wouldn’t leave.” I said. “Why would dad do this to me?”