Consider fostering their interest by doing a writing activity at home; for a person with a literary bent, writing nourishes the soul, plus, it’s a good way to spend time together.

As a teenager, I journaled daily, filling pages with the day’s events, and spilling thoughts and feelings onto the page. Later, in my science-based career, I continued to write, but this time creatively, not conscious that I needed an artistic outlet from my work. My 93-year-old mother, my biggest supporter and a true poet, likes to say, “Quando tems um talento, tems a obrigação de usar o talento.” When you have a talent, you have an obligation to use that talent. The obligation is to yourself.

Now, in this, my final career as a children’s writer, my days are dedicated to creating and the business of traditional publishing. In my research, I have learned that there are few writers of Luso descent in North American children’s publishing; this is unfortunate as the Portuguese have been contributing their work ethic and culture for many years in Canada, and much longer in the US. Happily, my first picture book, a story about me and my sea captain father, will be published by Owlkids in 2027.

I propose we foster an interest in writing in our children so that they too may someday find a seat at the table of traditional publishing.

Encouraging kids

So, back to the writing activity you can do with your child. Joseph Coelho is a British poet and children’s book author who has wonderful YouTube videos that encourage kids to write for fun. Last night, my eldest daughter and I decided to try one of his writing prompts, which is an activity to help get the ideas flowing and get words on the page.

In his video Poetry Prompt#3: Take Your Pen on a Journey, he asked us to free-write for 2 minutes, which is writing anything that comes to mind. I wrote with the recommended pen and paper, but my 18-year-old insisted she preferred her laptop. “But the words flow better with a pen,” I said to her, certain my old-school method was best. Nope.

When the clock stopped, we had to highlight the words and phrases that interested us most, and then Coelho demonstrated how he arranged his preferred words into lines with potential for poetry. Finally, he did some quick revising and read us what he had: an almost-poem involving a fox, the city, and the moon that sounded pretty great. You may be happy with your poem as it is, he said, or you may wish to continue revising, going back in a day or two.

Though my simple words were about preparing an orange sprinkled with sugar for my youngest daughter who was studying for exams in the basement, to my surprise, it became a small poem about showing my child love in the same way my mother had done with me.

Author: Thereza Dos Santos;

I had dutifully stopped at the two-minute mark and finished my poem quickly, but my daughter ignored the timer and kept going, focusing on one phrase from her free-write. It was late, and I went to bed while she tap-tapped away. The next day, she told me she’d continued to work on the poem into the night and titled it This Exact Moment. My child has always had the sense that life is fleeting, and she’d written about the pressure she felt to document everything so that she could never forget. I was blown away by her insightful words and her skillful handling of simile, the literary device used to compare two different ideas. She was touching on self-awareness about transitioning into adulthood and perhaps her feelings about her looming 5-week trip to Eastern Canada, the first time away from us for so long.

This writing activity that took me all of 20 minutes, and my daughter, a couple of hours, resulted in a few good lines from me, and a moving poem from her, where she reflects on where she is at this moment in her life. The exercise also proved my daughter right, that it is possible for the words to flow (at least for her) to the keyboard, resulting in a wonderful piece of writing.

Good thing she didn’t listen to me.

So, consider trying this writing activity with your children, or maybe, try it yourself. The results may surprise you.

Internet search for writing activity: YouTube, Joseph Coelho, Poetry Prompt#3

Or YouTube Reference:


Thereza Dos Santos is a Luso-Canadian young adult and picture book writer. You can find her on Instagram @therezadossantos and

Thereza Dos Santos