Let me start by saying......... WE LOVE STORY STARTERS! My opinion is that if you purchase this resource it is money well spent.
"If we would believe it, composition is as natural as jumping and running to children who have been allowed due use of books."
One of the best things we learnt to do from Charlotte Mason was to learn about narration. Children can learn from authors how to use words, it's so natural. Without even being conscience of it children learn to describe a setting, action and what characters are feeling.
Once Carter started to narrate his ability to recall and use words developed well to the point where he is able to tell his own stories rather than re-telling others. Carter narrates each day verbally, he will occasionally take the iPod to his room and record himself. It's using the 'imagination muscles' as Karen Andreola says, the more they are used the more other intellectual abilities develop and as a result children become more playful with creative narration.
This book encourages people to write with excitement and feeling and sometimes with calmness. We will use this on occasion to compose stories where I will scribe for Carter and then he can either type or copy work them into his journal.
This is one of those resources that can be used from ages 9 and up, over and over. Even if your child is not a wonderful mechanical writer, but a confident oral narrator like mine, this is a helpful resource and there is more than one way to compose a story. I believe that the physical act of writing will develop and grow as time goes by.
Karen Andreola has included pictures alone to be looked at and as a story starter. This could be done with any artwork or photo. Carter and Faith happily snap photo's all the time, so now and again there will be a photo with a lot of action in it. We print out the photo and a fictitious story is created about what is going on in it.
One of the games suggested in the book is a game of Round Robin. After the story starter is read aloud, the children (& mum or whoever!) take turns orally adding one or two sentences to the plot. As the plot thickens you may hear chuckles. The last child (however you pick the last child) in turn gives the story it's final resolution. If you have willing writers you could do this by handing around a piece of paper for them to write on, but we've only done this orally and video taped ourselves once. Mum can then read back the story and often the participants are thrilled to hear it all come together.
It is not a curriculum, it is a helpful, flexible resource designed for you to pick and choose as you deem fit. Karen Andreola states..."Don't take creative writing too seriously." Have a good time so they will want to do it again.
If your child can narrate well and is writing comfortably this would be a loved resource for Charlotte Mason fans. I wouldn't rush to use it unless your child wants to have fun with creating stories as it is just as relevant for all the way through high school. Then again it might be just the thing to bring out that creative thinking in your reluctant one. There is minimal to no prep and you can tweak to suit the individual and still get you money's worth.
The stories could be composed over weeks or in 10 minutes it use depends on your child. There are optional teaching tools and helps regarding writing, internal motivation and an explanation of the value of these types of activities.