One Book Two Book Festival, Iowa Young Writers Studio Celebrates Youth Writing in Iowa City

While many of Iowa City’s writing programs focus on helping adults pursue literature successfully, One Book Two Book Children’s Literature Festival and Iowa Young Writers’ Studio are two programs that encourage writing for young people. in Iowa City.


Iowa City is internationally recognized for producing talented writers. Through programs such as the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Nonfiction Writing Program, and various on-campus literary magazines, the city has earned a reputation for producing excellent writers and to allow authors to flourish.

Many of Iowa City’s notable programs are aimed at adults looking to develop themselves as writers. However, the city still harbors a lot of potential and opportunities for young writers who want to explore the world of literature.

The One Book Two Book Children’s Literature Festival is one such celebration that highlights the success and talent of local children. Hosted by the UNESCO City of Literature of Iowa City, the organization’s website explains that while children are often recognized for their athletic and musical talents, praise for literary achievements is lacking.

“As a UNESCO City of Literature, we rightly praise the published and soon-to-be-published authors among us, but we tend to overlook the most abundant reservoir of talent in our region: our K-12 schools,” the site says. Event website. .

The One Book Two Book Children’s Literature Festival aims to fill this gap by allowing children to submit content that is judged and rewarded in a public setting. This year’s festival took place on February 26 and 27, where the winners were announced, and other activities related to books and reading took place.

City of Literature director John Kenyon said the program offers great freedom in what children can submit to the competition portion of the event. Thanks to honorable mentions and several different categories that select winners, many writers can be recognized.

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“We are able to recognize typically between 70 and 100 children for their handwriting,” Kenyon said.

Whether a child wants to pursue a career in writing or simply uses crafts as a form of expression, Kenyon said all children are encouraged to participate.

“It encourages them to write – it gives them something to work on, gives them a purpose, especially the [kids] who want to be recognized for their work,” Kenyon said.

Youth writing programs in Iowa City not only support local children, but they also have a national reach. The Iowa Young Writers’ Studio is a program that invites students from across the country to stay at IU and learn from local writers.

Iowa Young Writers Studio Director Stephen Lovely said the selective program shows the immense talent and demand for writing in Iowa. The program receives a high number of applicants each year.

“[The students are] hungry for knowledge, information and resources on how to develop this writing,” said Lovely. “Many of them are at a point where they want to learn more about the intricacies of craftsmanship. They want to learn how to take the kind of expressive outpouring of language, thought, emotion and feeling, and to turn it into art.

Although it’s been held virtually for the past two years, the Iowa Young Writers Studio plans to move forward in a hybrid format this summer.

Kenyon said that regardless of age, writing tends to be a solo journey, and because of that, it’s essential to share praise-worthy work with the world.

“Writing — it’s such a lonely pursuit that sometimes you think it’s nice to just spotlight people who are doing great work,” Kenyon said. “It’s not as public, there’s not as much profit-making circumstance around it as there are around other activities that kids do.”

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