A love for books

. March 8, 2013.

Jennifer Traig is an unusual author. Not only does the 39-year-old wife and mother of a 10-month-old daughter write everything from humor to memoirs, she’s creating a generation of future

Traig, an Ann Arbor resident is on the board of 826michigan, an organization that helps youngsters learn more about the art of writing. The group has eight locations across the nation, including San Francisco, where Traig served as  a tutor for six years.

 The organization offers homework assistance, in-school visits and student publishing but has one primary mission. “To get kids excited about writing,” said Traig, an Ann Arbor resident.
Workshops, classes and tutoring are available to all students from 8-18. All services are free, except for the occasional class offered for adults.

Clients vary from youngsters who need a little extra help to kids eager to work on their first science fi ction novel, said Traig.

Juggling her time between caring for her baby, her work as an author and other responsibilities, has forced her to put tutoring on hold for a while. Instead, Traig focuses on 826michigan board activities. Throughout her experience with the organization, Traig has enjoyed working with the youngsters. “We did a writing class with pets in San Francisco. We brought in a dog and had students write a story for them and read to the dog,” said Traig.

“In Michigan, there’s a superhero class. The kids write superhero stories.” The group tutors kids at West Middle School in Ypsilanti and at its Liberty
street site. “A lot of my involvement is selfi sh,” said Traig.

“I enjoy seeing (the young writers) light up when they get it. I enjoy meeting the other tutors who tend to be like me – interested in writing.”

The youngsters’ free spirits add joy to Traig’s day. “I had a kid who said, ‘my mom is really old but it’s a family secret,’” she said. “I had a local boy who wrote the
most darling bunny detective story.” And, by working with the kids, Traig has learned things about her own writing style.

“Since I’ve been talking about what makes good writing, I’m thinking about what’s good writing,” she said. “I like simple clear writing that meets you at the door with its hand out. It makes you think about your own life.” 

Fears that reading may soon become a lost art are overstated, in Traig’s view.

 “I’m not at all worried about video games taking over,” she said. “I see them
with their paperbacks. It will be a while until Kindle invades middle school.” Her past activity as a tutor has changed Traig for the better, she said. 

“It’s made me comfortable around kids and better able to (set limits and convey expectations),” she said. “It’s made me more confi dent directing my  daughter.”

826michigan’s writing center is located at 115 E. Liberty. For more information about the organization, visit their website at www.826michigan.org Traig’s most recent book, Well Enough Alone (Riverhead 2008), is coauthored by her sister, Victoria Traig.