On the History of the Magazine and
by Ross Tyner, Director of Library Services at Okanagan College
The idea for KIdsWWwrite began
with renowned children’s author Margriet Ruurs, formerly of Armstrong,
now living on Saltspring Island. Margriet approached the Kalamalka
Institute for Working Writers and asked if there might be an opportunity
to work together to produce an online children’s writing magazine, which
she had initially conceived as part of her M.Ed. degree at Simon Fraser
University. Everyone involved felt that the combination of writing and
the Internet would create an excellent means by which to encourage
children to write and, since the College had the human and technological
resources to support it, the project went ahead.
With the assistance of some students and teachers from Vernon, the first issue was published in May 2001, with Margriet as editor, a role she played for the next 13 years. She instituted the practice of sending every young author who submitted a story or poem a personal email message, including suggestions for improvements where appropriate. Virtually every piece that was submitted was published, the only exceptions being work that was not the original writing of the person who submitted it and work that failed to respect common standards of courtesy and/or language. Early issues of KIdsWWwrite were modest in size, with the inaugural issue containing only twelve submissions. It wasn’t long, however, before its popularity grew, to the point where Issue #51 (June 2006) featured a record 145 poems, stories and reviews. An early contributor to the publication’s growth was the addition in 2002 of the “Sarah’s Stars” book reviews, which were part of the magazine until 2012.
KIdsWWwrite was very fortunate to have had an author of Margriet’s calibre and reputation as its editor, not to mention as its number one booster. Her many other commitments forced her to hand over her editorial responsibilities to retired children’s librarian Ellen Heaney for the magazine’s last two years of publication.
Now, when she is not writing, Margriet can often be found touring the schools of the world, giving workshops and readings to children and their teachers. In the past, these school visits often resulted in submissions from the children she had recently spoken to, so it was not uncommon to see an issue of the magazine that included stories and poems from schools in Wisconsin, California or Pakistan. Margriet’s travels have not only served as a platform for encouraging children’s writing but as inspiration for books such as My Librarian is a Camel; School Days Around the World; and most recently, Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey.