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Celebrating the joys of reading and writing

For more than thirty years, young writers from West Michigan have come to Calvin College with a common eagerness to explore the craft of writing.

The story of young people stepping onto the campus, clutching the manuscripts they have written, begins in 1976 when Bette Bosma and Kathryn Blok developed the Young Authors Program in partnership with the Kent Intermediate School District. It was a partnership that continued until 1996 when the program reorganized under the sponsorship of the Calvin College English Department.

Over the years, the program has evolved into an even larger event that includes the Young Authors Program, the Middle School Writers Workshop, and the High School Writers Workshop. Students from the greater Grand Rapids area schools come together to participate in a variety of activities including writing workshops, shared readings, and gatherings with well-known authors and illustrators. In addition, more than 300 Calvin students break out of their normal routines to serve as workshop leaders and guides for these three events. 

The story of the Young Authors Program, or what has become the Youth Writing Festival, is the story of many people. It is the story of the Bette Bosmas and the Kathryn Bloks who have had the vision and the energy to plan the event. It is the story of the award-winning authors and illustrators who have come each year to talk about their art. It is the story of more than 3,500 Calvin students who have volunteered their time. It is the story of hundreds of community partners and donors who have helped make the Festival a possibility. But, most importantly, it is the story of the more than 30,000 young people who have had a chance to tell their own stories.