Whittier fifth-grader teams with mom to help young writers get published

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Charley Jones was a third-grader at Whittier Elementary when she saw her words published for the first time. 

She submitted a story about a greedy turkey named Bob whose behavior led him to become a Thanksgiving entree for a writing contest sponsored by the Westerville Public Library. She didn’t win the contest but the story was printed in a book — an empowering moment she and her mother, Leanne, wanted to extend to others.

So they launched My Favorite Story, a nonprofit organization that gives young writers facing adversity the opportunity to creatively work through challenges by publishing their stories. 

“It was one of those moments where I thought, how wonderful would it be for other students to have this opportunity, to have a real-life book they write, illustrate, and even publish,” Leanne Jones said. 

The organization, which debuted in 2019, raised $2,000 to sponsor its first 25 authors, publish their stories and host official launch parties which include marketing materials and an autograph session. They started developing plans to raise awareness about their work and engage with the public when the pandemic struck. They sought ways to connect with the community from home, organizing a book donation drive to the Homeless Families Foundation during the holidays. 

Meanwhile, Jones found other mediums to tell stories through My Favorite Story’s Facebook and Instagram (@my.favorite.story) platforms. Jones dedicated March to writing mini-biographies about female trailblazers and history-makers in honor of Women’s History Month. Her daily written and video posts happen to align with a fifth-grade class project at Whittier Elementary, where she has to create a slideshow on a notable female figure in history.

“I’ve always loved writing since I was able to write,” Jones said. “I liked all the writing for school projects and typing my stories. That’s another reason why I love the women’s posts I’m doing. It’s fun to be creative.”

She hopes their stories inspire girls and women alike that they are capable of anything.

“We’re all super special and strong,” she said. 

Her work has been an eye-opener for Leanne Jones, who didn’t know about some of the women Jones profiled in her Women’s History Month project.

“I’m so proud of all of the work she’s done completely and totally on her own,” she said.

As for My Favorite Story’s next steps, she said they’d like to engage with the public and connect with young writers interested in sharing their stories and young artists who can help illustrate stories. 

To learn more about My Favorite Story or submit a story for publication, email Leanne Jones at leanne@myfavoritestory.org.