Writer's Toolbox

Here are some resources for writers young and old alike—books, classes, writers’ communities, websites.
Scroll down to see resources especially for young writers. This list is living and growing, so please keep checking back for more.



Strunk and White Elements of Style—Always on my bookshelf, always the first book I recommend for writers, creative or professional. Co-written by E.B. White of Charlotte’s Web fame, this slim little white volume covers the essentials of grammar, and coaches writers toward a no-nonsense style.  Since it was published in 1918, it’s now in the public domain so you can access it online. 


Oxford A-Z of Grammar and Punctuation—What more do you need when it comes to grammar? By Oxford University press, so expect the Oxford comma, of course. 


Bird by Bird by Annie Lamont—Humorous and practical, this book gets down to what stops us from writing, demystifies the process, and encourages us to break through keep going. Although written for adults, its lessons can be distilled for young writers too. 


A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver—One of my favorite books on the nuts and bolts of poetry writing, largely because it is so accessible for young and beginning writers, with short chapters on some of the basic components of poetry: sound, imagery, diction, etc.  


The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop by Diane Lockward—With model poems by professional poets (including our founder Suzanne Zweizig), this book provides prompts and ideas for jumpstarting your creative writing. 



Stone Soup—This creative writing/art journal is 100% written and illustrated by kids 13 and over. Sure to inspire your young writer!   


Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook—This book is a great introduction to creative writing for kids aged 9-14, containing prompts and solid guidance. I love that it encourages young writers to take risks, make mistakes, and assures them that messiness is part of the writing process. That’s not a bad message for bigger writers either! Although geared toward creative writing, its philosophy on writing will help build confidence for school writing as well. 


New Pages—This page collects a great list of opportunities for young writers!  


NaNoWriMo Young Writers—This is the “young writers” branch of the beloved National Novel Writers’ Month organization (see above) oriented toward helping writers under 18 draft their novel (or other writing project). They have support materials for teachers as well. 


826DC—This organization offers free after-school writing support and workshops to young writers in the DC area



Purdue Online Writing Lab—This site from Purdue University Writing is great for students writing academic and research papers. Along with general tips on writing, it provides examples of how to cite sources using all the major style guides (MLA, APA, Chicago) as well as links to those style guides—all in one place. 


Road to Grammar—This free site has grammar games, quizzes and reviews for both children and ESL English learners, as well as resources for teaching grammar. 



Jenny McKean Moore Free Community Workshop—A hidden gem in the DC Area. Every year, George Washington University hires a creative writer who offers a free community writing workshop (for adults) in the fall and spring, usually alternating between prose and poetry. Admission is competitive, but the teachers are excellent.  Keep your eye on their website for application information, usually in the late summer and fall. 


NaNoWriMo—No, not baby language: NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, an organization that harnesses the twin powers of accountability and community to get writers to complete a novel-length draft during the month of November. Writers keep track of page count and progress via the website and other community activities. 


The Writer’s Center—Located in Bethesda, MD, this long-time community organization offers an array of adult creative writing classes, readings and other literary events.  


The Loft Literary Center—Another great writers’ community offering classes and events in the Minneapolis area, or virtually. 


Poets and Writers—This website aggregates a list of resources to find writing conferences and residencies.