Early Harvest - A Magazine for Kids, by Kids

early harvest is a magazine that has been put together for kids, by kids. Taking on the template of its adult counterpart - harvest magazine - the folks at the magazine combined with Pigeons Projects to run a very special program, that was supported by Maribyrnong City Council, and has resulted in a wonderful publication that features work from Terry Denton, Sally Rippin, Sherryl Clark and Paul Collins and was overseen by an editorial board of upper-primary aged kids. To tell us more Jess Tran from Pigeons Projects chatted with early harvest co-creator Emma Hewitt about the project.

What makes early harvest the most unique literary mag around?

Early harvest showcases the work of emerging young writers, featured alongside popular children’s authors. But the best part is the editorial board was made up of fourteen kids, aged 10-12, from Melbourne’s inner-west.

Who are the editorial board?

We worked closely with teachers in the Maribyrnong area to identify children who would benefit from the program. We were looking for kids who were excited about writing and excited about literature and would really gain something from learning how to make a magazine, and who would perhaps not normally have this type of opportunity.

EH Members of the editorial board of early harvest hard at work.

This was a collaboration between Pigeons Projects, harvest magazine and yourself – where did the idea come from?

It was something I’d been thinking about doing for a while and the same for Jenna Williams and Lachlann Carter of Pigeons Projects – we all did internships at 826 Valencia, the not-for profit writing centre started by Dave Eggers and Nínive Calegari in San Francisco, where there’s a focus on publishing children’s work as a way of celebrating the value of their writing. We serendipitously approached Davina Bell from harvest magazine with similar ideas around the same time!

A lot of the time children’s writing exists in school and exists in the home but doesn’t get out there. Giving kids the chance to create a publication they can hold in their hand, that looks smart and has beautiful illustrations, is a really amazing way of acknowledging their writing. And young people get really excited about reading other young people’s writing in a space they’ve only seen adult authors writing for them.

Apart from the mag itself, what did the kids get really excited about?

We brought in a number of special guests from the publishing industry. They really loved the design and editing workshops, they were strangely excited about fonts, and learning the secret code of editing, so writing editing mark-up was like discovering a new language. Every workshop had some amazing reveal about what the kids were passionate about and they relished the authority they held in the decision-making process.

And if this sounds like a project one might like to be involved in?

Our pilot program has been really successful so in 2012 we’re looking at an ebook and aiming to reach a broader section of young writers in the submissions process. We’re planning in-school writing workshops to help young contributors develop their writing, and create a support structure for them so they can submit the best writing possible for publication. We’re hoping to get submissions from across Australia.

We’ve started planning, and the workshops will run second and third term next year. Obviously early harvest wouldn’t have been possible without all our presenters and a massive support crew of editors, designers and fabulous volunteers. We’d love to hear from people interested in submitting or being on the editorial board, or from publishing people who want to be involved. Go to pigeonsprojects.org and get in touch via email.