Like Holden Caulfield, children can smell phoniness a mile away. When asked to write essays on topics like "What I did last summer," they turn off. They sense that they are being given busy work, a ho-hum exercise that nobody—least of all the writer—cares about. It's different when your child is involved. The next time that he is thrilled or appalled by something that happens to him, encourage him to write a letter about it. How about a letter of complaint to that airline that doesn't have children's magazines on board? Or a fan letter to his favorite author? He may get a reply, providing him with a strong incentive for that next round of letters. Talk to him about his ideas and his concerns. If you get in the habit of showing him that the written word makes a difference—and is part of your own life—he'll soon follow suit. He may write to a public official or newspaper. Whomever he addresses, he will discover the tremendous satisfaction that comes from being able to think on paper. Isn't that what good writing is all about?