2015 Book Launch a Success!

“About twenty-five Grand Rapids Creative Youth Center young authors attended their annual celebration and release of The Book of Explosions IV: Tiny Purple Thunderlights at the Wealthy Theatre Wednesday, May 20.

The young authors sat in the first few rows of the theatre, giggling when the opening video cut to B-roll footage of them writing and playing at the non-profit headquarters…”

Read the entire article on The Rapidian by clicking here.

Matthew Baker Visits the CYC

The week of April 27, the Afterschool Adventure students had the great fortune of meeting a real, published author. Matthew Baker released his first children’s novel, If You Find This, on March 17 with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. If You Find This follows a young boy named Nicholas. Nicholas is a math and music prodigy, and he takes readers on an adventure to find his grandfather’s hidden treasure.

When Baker visited the CYC, he read an excerpt from the first chapter of the book. Because Nicholas plays music, Baker wrote the book to include “dynamics” under certain words. “Dynamics” tell musicians at what volume notes should be played. Forte, for example, indicates a note should be played loudly, while piano means a note should be played softly. By placing these annotations in his text, Baker brings the reader even further into Nicholas’ world.

“Those are really hard to show when reading the book out loud, but I still want you to get the full effect,” he explained to the kids. Baker distributed signs with forte and piano printed in a large font to two students. He cued them like a conductor, instructing when to wave the paper in the air.

Baker has wanted to be a writer since 4th grade. When he discovered his love of reading and the experience11187798_10153199171851327_845945851826530655_o of being able to enter another person’s world, he knew he wanted to do that for others. Much like his protagonist, Baker also had a fondness for music and math, which is what inspired him to include those elements in If You Find This. 

After Baker finished reading, he answered questions the students had about the writing and publication process. One student showed particular interest in how he generates ideas.

“Everything interests me,” he said. “You can write about anything. We live on the only known planet, in the universe, with intelligent creatures. If you ever have trouble finding ideas, stay curious about the world and about other people, and you’ll always have ideas.”

This prompted a discussion about where they get their ideas. Family, friends, music, TV, and movies were all very popular.

“I get my ideas from memories,” said Topaz, 4th.

Because the kids will read their work at the release party of The Book of Explosions IV: Tiny Purple Thunderlights, on May 20, they also asked Baker if he is ever scared to read his work in public.

“[Reading your work] is really scary, and it took a long time for me to get used to it,” he said. “But, even if you’re scared, it’s also really exciting.”

Baker gave the kids advice on how to prepare for the big event, including practicing beforehand. He told them to try reading out loud, alone, because it erases some of the anxiety . He also believes in the power of dressing for success.

“Try and wear your favorite outfit,” he said. “Something that you feel really comfortable and confident in. That will really help.”


A huge thank you to Matthew Baker for spending the week with us! Check out his website for information about If You Find This and other, upcoming projects. 




Meet Our New Junior Board Member

We are very excited to welcome Shukri Bana to our Board of Directors! Shukri has been with us since the fall as a program intern. We have absolutely loved having her bright and sparkly personality light up the CYC’s programs the last few months, and look forward to working with her in this new role. Read more from her below.

Hi, I’m Shukri Bana! I’m a student at Grand Valley and the new junior board member at the Creative Youth Center. I began working with the CYC last fall as an intern in the Afterschool Adventure program, and I loved how seriously we took silliness and humor so much that I stayed on as a volunteer. I’ve become increasingly aware of how our values of voice, storytelling, and imagination formed a mutually beneficial relationship between the students and young adult volunteers: through our one-on-one relationships, we’ve used our stories and visions to help students amplify their own. As part of the board, I hope to expand and strengthen the connection between college students and the youth we serve to inspire adventurers, younger and older, to embrace the diversity in their lived experiences and stories. Through sharing diverse stories, fiction or not, I know our students will be empowered to continue celebrating all aspects of their stories and identities.