Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Zachary Gates, a rising fourth-grader, works on writing his book, "The Championship," during the seventh annual Mill Creek Literary Institute at Duncan Creek Elementary School on Wednesday.
HOSCHTON -- What do "lonely princesses" and "evil wizard ghosts" have in common?
Both were fictional characters created by 6-year-old authors this week during a literary summer camp for students in the Mill Creek schools cluster.
Hundreds of aspiring writers in grades one through eight came out this week for the seventh annual Mill Creek Literary Institute, held at Duncan Creek Elementary.
Literary coach Melanie Mount said it focuses on reading and writing "and children becoming better readers and writers."
"Every child that comes here leaves a new author," said Mount, who oversees the annual event.
Mount said each student who attends the weeklong camp gets to publish a hardbound book with a front and back cover.
"They do all the illustrations," she said. "They do their own 'about the author' page. They are the complete owners of their stories and the ideas come straight from their brains."
Six-year-old Elle Willis came up with a tale about a lonely princess, and instructor Amanda Hennebaul helped her flesh out the protagonist as a character.
When questioned about his story, Chip Wooten, 6, glanced up from the throes of the creative process. Thoughtfully, he answered.
"I can tell you that it's about an evil wizard ghost," Wooten said. "That's the story. That's as much as I can tell you now."
Mount said many of the students who attend the camp come with an innate interest in reading or writing.
"It's an enrichment program, where children can come and explore their own ideas and their own passion for writing," she said. "Everybody publishes something different."
She said teachers ask young writers to strategize when putting pen to paper.
"It's strategies that help them explore being able to look at vivid language and making mind pictures in the reader's mind and making sure you grab that reader from the beginning," Mount said.
Tuition for the yearly event is $100 per student.
For more information about the Mill Creek Literacy Institute, email Mount at email@example.com.