The Library of Congress has recently revamped their literacy outreach website in anticipation of the 9th annual edition of the National Book Festival. The new read.gov site contains tons of classic texts you can read/browse with an all new fancy page-turning technology. Also on the site is the LOC’s own creation, “The Exquisite Corpse Adventure” (long title: “The Exquisite Corpse Adventure: A Very Unusual and Completely Amazing Story Pieced Together Out of So Many Parts That It Is Not Possible To Describe Them All Here So Go Ahead and Just Start Reading.”)
In name, this collaborative writing project harkens back to the original Surrealist exquisite corpse game, which was in turn based on an old Victorian parlour game called Consequences. Our more modern Mad Libs owe a huge debt to these games, as these games provide methods by which a collection of words (or images) are collectively assembled in some sequential manner. The LOC’s Exquisite Corpse Adventure will have 26 chapters contributed by famed authors of children’s books.
I think this is a supremely cool idea to get kids interested in reading, writing, and the power of collaboration with friends and peers, whether it be in a serious artistic endeavor, or just to prove that your creativity can be augmented tremendously just by rappin’ with your pals. Some of my more treasured memories center around collaborative writing activities: working on a newspaper column with my pal Billy, the word games our creative writing club used to play in High School, penning a dirty Mad Lib with friends, relieving bathroom boredom with roommates in college (in word/picture form), collaborating on a zine, working on a goofy short story with a friend by swapping back and forth each sentence, etc. I can only hope that innovative literacy projects like this one will help inspire new generations of young people to new forms of creativity.