Open Books hosts Creative Writing Workshops year-round, and would love to have your students join us. To get started, just fill out the form to the right.

Have questions about the Workshop experience? Here’s the FAQ.

 

 

Workshop Curricula

For Elementary School Students (grades 3-5)
Name of Workshop Objective Writing Assignment Readings, Videos, and Multimedia CCSS
Celebrating Setting ProseStudents will understand the role of setting in a narrative.Students will write their own nonfiction piece about their bedroom or fictional dream bedroom and what about that space illustrates important aspects of their personalities. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, Toy Story, Scattergories Race GameW: 3.3, 3.3.A, 4.3, 4.3.A, 5.3, 5.3.A
Celebrating Our Loved Ones ProseStudents will understand direct and indirect characterization and apply that knowledge to write about a loved one.Students will write a short nonfiction description of a loved one using both direct and indirect characterization. Excerpt from James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl W: 3.3, 3.3.A, 3.3.B, 4.3, 4.3.A, 4.3.B, 5.3, 5.3.A, 5.3.B,
Food Imagery PoetryStudents will understand and use imagery and the five senses to write a descriptive poem about a food item. Students will write a descriptive poem about a food they either love or hate using imagery and the five senses so that classmates can guess the good before it is revealed. Snowy Day poem, Sweet Delight poem, Ratatouille, images of foodW: 3.3, 3.3.D, 4.3, 4.4.D, 5.3, 5.5.D
What I Love To Do Slam Poetry Students will understand the characteristics of slam poetry and practice performance techniques to share a poem they write with others. Students will write a slam poem about an activity that they love to do.TEDxkids by Asha ChristensenW: 3.3, 3.3.B, 4.3, 4.3.B, 5.3, 5.3.B
New! Who Am I? Bilingual Poetry Workshop. Instruction is in English with all materials in both Spanish and English. Students are free to write in either language.Students will explore what defines them as a school and as individuals.Students will write their own "I Am" poem using figurative language.Madlibs activity, group acrostic poem, Yo Soy by Tanya Calvin, Guardian Angel by Francisco Alcarón
For Middle School Students (grades 5-8)
Changing Perspectives ProseStudents will identify perspective changes and list at least one reason that led to that change. Students will write a narrative about a time they had their perspective of someone/something altered, or a time they altered someone else’s opinion in someway. Excerpts from Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman , optical illusionsW: 6.3, 6.3.B, 6.3.E, 7.3, 7.3.B, 7.3.E, 8.3, 8.3.B, 8.3.E, 6.4, 7.4, 8.4, 8.5
A Lesson I Have Learned ProseStudents will reflect on lessons they have learned (through mistakes they have made) through a carefully curated series of games, activities, and readings. Students will write a nonfiction narrative about a time they failed and the life lesson they learned from the experience. A selection of fables plus excerpts from A Good Reason to Look Up by Shaquille O’NealW: 6.3, 6.3.B, 6.3.E, 7.3, 7.3.B, 7.3.E, 8.3, 8.3.B, 8.3.E
Simile and Metaphor: Write Like Billy Collins PoetryStudents will understand and use similes and metaphors in poetry.Students will write a poem about an everyday task they know how to do using similes and metaphors.Examples of similes and metaphors, Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins W: 6.4, 6.5, 7.4, 7.5, 8.4, 8.5
A Dream For My Future Slam PoetryStudents will understand the characteristics of slam poetry and practice performance techniques, including volume, expression, and body language, when performing a poem they write. Students will write a poem about a dream they have for their future and then identify places in their writing where they can perform it with appropriate volume, expression, and/or body language.High School Training Ground by Chicago native, Malcolm London, and I Can't Read by Lamont CareyW: 6.3, 6.3.D, 6.4, 7.3, 7.3.D, 7.4, 8.3, 8.3.D, 8.4
New! Who Am I? Bilingual Poetry Workshop. Instruction is in English with all materials in both Spanish and English. Students are free to write in either language.Students will explore the meaning of identity.Students will write their own "I Am" poem using figurative language.Proud to Be by the National Congress of Indian Americans, Yo Soy by Tanya Calvin, My Style by Chicago native, Mayda Del Valle
For High School Students (grades 9-12)
A Lesson I Have Learned ProseStudents will reflect on lessons they have learned (through mistakes they have made) through a carefully curated series of games, activities, and readings. Students will write a nonfiction narrative about a time they failed and the life lesson they learned from the experience. A selection of fables plus excerpts from A Good Reason to Look Up by Shaquille O’Neal W: 9-10.3, 11-12.3, 9-10.3.B, 11-12.3.B
Simile and Metaphor PoetryStudents will understand and use similes and metaphors in poetry.Students will write a poem about an everyday task they know how to do using similes and metaphors.Examples of similes and metaphors, Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins W: 9-12.4, 9-12.5
A Dream For My Future Slam PoetryStudents will understand the characteristics of slam poetry and practice performance techniques, including volume, expression, and body language, when performing a poem they write. Students will write a poem about a dream they have for the future and then identify places in their writing where they can perform it with appropriate volume, expression, and/or body language.High School Training Ground by Chicago native, Malcolm London, and I Can't Read by Lamont CareyW: 9-12.3, 9-12.3.D, 9-12.4
Changing Perspectives ProseStudents will identify perspective changes and list at least one reason that led to that change. Students will write a narrative about a time they had their perspective of someone/something altered, or a time they altered someone else’s opinion in someway. Excerpts from Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman , optical illusionsW: 6.3, 6.3.B, 6.3.E, 7.3, 7.3.B, 7.3.E, 8.3, 8.3.B, 8.3.E, 6.4, 7.4, 8.4, 8.5
New! Who Am I? Bilingual Poetry Workshop. Instruction is in English with all materials in both Spanish and English. Students are free to write in either language.Students will explore the meaning of identity.Students will write their own "I Am" poem using figurative language.Proud to Be by the National Congress of Indian Americans, Yo Soy by Tanya Calvin, My Style by Chicago native, Mayda Del Valle
Fill out my online form.

General Logistics

What happens during a field trip?

Every Creative Writing Workshop is a little different, but they all have these great features in common:

1) Group reading, discussion, and activities.

2) Individual writing time with support from trained coaches.

3) Live performances by students (while wearing our famed pencil costume)!

4) A visit to the award-winning Open Books store, where each student chooses a free book to take home.

5) A few weeks later, a published anthology of the students’ work is mailed back to the school to commemorate the field trip!

 

Where do the Workshops occur?

Both our bookstore and our literacy center are located at 651 W. Lake St. in the West Loop and are fully ADA-accessible.

What days of the week do Workshops occur?

Field trips are held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

What time do Workshops occur?

From 10:00am-12:30pm. The instructional portion of the field trip is from 10:00-noon, and the bookstore visit is from 12:00-12:30, unless you have made special arrangements with Open Books. Please arrive no later than 10am. Buses should be ready to pick up your group no later than 12:35pm. No refunds will be given for groups who arrive late, nor will the field trip time be extended.


What grade levels of students can come to a Workshop?

Open Books serves 3rd-12th grade students in our Workshop. We can only take student groups spanning 3 or fewer grade levels at a time. (For instance, we could take a group of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders, but NOT 6th, 8th, and 12th graders.)


Who leads the Workshop?

Field trips are led by trained Open Books Teaching Artists.


What training do the writing coaches undergo? Are they background checked?

Our volunteer writing coaches, who sit at each table during the field trips and assist students, have been background checked and have gone through an Open Books orientation. Volunteers are also briefed before each field trip on the content of the curriculum, as well as best practices for working with students.

What is the role of teachers and chaperones during the Workshop?

During the Workshop, please help us motivate and inspire your students by:

• Participating actively!

• Being available to address individual student concerns and assist with any behavioral issues that may arise.

• Keeping cell phones off and out of sight (we require this of students, too).

• Teachers will be asked to fill out a class demographics form and provide a class roster with correct spellings of students’ full names.

How many students can attend a Workshop?

Groups must include at least 10 and no more than 70 students. We have two classrooms, and each classroom can accommodate up to 35 students. You can choose to book either one or both of these classrooms.

How does transportation work?

It is the visiting group’s responsibility to secure transportation to and from Open Books.


Do you offer scholarships to pay for buses?

Unfortunately, no. Open Books is unable to provide bus scholarships at this time.

How many chaperones are required?

Open Books requires all visiting groups to secure at least two chaperones per class (including teachers and classroom aides).

Can students eat lunch at Open Books?

For a $25 clean-up fee, you can have your students eat lunch at Open Books. If you have opted to do so, lunch will occur during the 11:30-12:00 section of the workshop. Please budget your time accordingly.

How does the bookstore visit work?

At 12:00, after the instructional period of the Workshop, we lead the students across the hall to our bookstore. Each student will be given a coupon good for one free used book worth $10 or less. They can check out at the front desk in a single file line. Students should be quiet and courteous in the store. Students should leave the books like they find them, just like in a library. Students, teachers, and chaperones are welcome to bring their own money to purchase additional books.

When will my class receive their published booklets?

After each Workshop, Open Books types up and publishes your students’ work in customized booklets (1 per student, plus extra for the teachers), and mails these back to your school. The period of time it takes to complete a Workshop session’s booklets varies. Expect your booklets no sooner than one week after your Workshop date, and as many as six weeks after. During the busiest times of the year, Open Books runs four Workshops each week, which amounts to a mountain of booklets! Please be patient. :)

Who can I contact for more information about Workshops?

Signing Up

How far in advance should I schedule my Workshop?

Open Books schedules Workshops no fewer than 12 business days in advance. This is to allow for ample time to recruit volunteers, assign Workshop leaders, and prepare materials for your group.

The earlier you submit a preliminary sign-up form, the better. Field trip dates can fill up rapidly, and you don’t want to miss out!

 

How does the signup process work?
The signup process has three stages:

1. Fill out the signup form with some basic information about your

group and your top three preferred dates

2. Open Books will contact you to confirm whether your selected date

is available and place a temporary hold on the date.

3. Open Books then follow up with a program agreement and invoice.

After reading it thoroughly, you will sign and return the agreement

form via fax or email to lock in your Workshop date.

Payment, Cancellation, and Class Size Changes

How much do Workshops cost?

$8 per student. This price includes the book coupon for each student.

Does it cost anything for the accompanying teachers or chaperones?

No. Adults get in for free, but they do not receive book coupons.

How much does it cost to have my students eat lunch at Open Books?

$25 per Workshop date.

How can I pay for my Workshop?

Open Books accepts:

– Checks
– CPS purchase order (our vendor number is 63178)
– Credit cards via PayPal
– Money orders

When is payment due?

Payment is due at least 5 business days before your scheduled Workshop. If we do not have a form of payment in hand 5 business days before your scheduled Workshop, we will cancel your Workshop. 

What is your policy on group size changes?

The final student number is due 5 business days in advance of your Workshop. Refunds are only made if student number changes are made 5 business days in advance, and refunds are not provided for students absent on the day of the Workshop. If additional students are added to your group on the day of the Workshop, payment for these additional students is due the day of the Workshop.

Please keep in mind that we can only accommodate up to 35 students in each of our two classrooms. If you want to add another classroom’s worth of students, this must be discussed with Open Books in advance.

What is your policy on cancellations and refunds?

All cancellations must be made 5 business days in advance to receive a refund, regardless of any/all mitigating factors (including transportation issues, inclement weather, strikes, etc.).

Bookstore Visit

What happens during our visit to the Open Books store?

Every student who comes for a Workshop also visits the award-winning Open Books store to pick out a book of his or her choice to take home to keep.

Any book? Really?

Student coupons are only good for used books, valued at $10 or less. However, this includes 90% of the books we have!

 

Is Open Books a children’s bookstore?

The Open Books store has every type of book imaginable, and is not limited to children’s and YA books. However, our children’s and YA section is huge — more than 10,000 books!

Who monitors the students’ book selection?

It’s up to school teachers and chaperones to make sure that children choose appropriate books. Since Open Books stocks all kinds of books—for adults and children alike—we leave it up to schools and teachers to decide what’s appropriate for each student.

Do teachers get free books, too?

The book coupons are for the students only. However, we have many opportunities for teachers to receive free and reduced cost books for their classrooms. Ask us!
Last-Minute Questions

Where are you located?

We are located at 651 West Lake Street in the West Loop. There is

a 15-minute unloading zone directly outside our bookstore where the

school buses can unload students. If this is full, you can also turn

right onto Desplaines (a one-way headed South) to unload.

 

How can I reach Open Books? I’m late / need directions / no longer coming.

If you are running late and need directions or other points of clarification, call us at (312) 475-1355 x 120.

Do you have a water fountain?

Yes: two.