826DC’s bracket-style ping-pong tournament fundraiser, Paddlestar Galactica, is BACK on Saturday, March 25th, 12:30 PM to 4 PM at SPIN DC! Learn more, donate, and sign up to participate here.
By: Sebastian, Grade 3

Pine and Willow with the Bullies

In the beginning, there was a little tree called Willow. He lived in a park near a little pond with other trees. One day, the trees started picking on him because he was different.

One of the trees said, “Why are you sad?”

Willow said, “Because you are teasing me.”

There was another tree named Pine. Pine looked like a Christmas tree. The other trees also teased Pine because he was the only pine tree.

The other trees said, “Hey Pine! Why do you look like a Christmas tree?”

Pine said, “That’s because I am a Christmas tree.”

The other trees said, “Of course you are! That’s why you are different, and we’re smarter than you.”

So when Pine grew up, he saw Willow getting bullied.

Then Pine said, “STOP!”

The other tree said, “What are you going to do?”

So Willow said, “You heard him, stop!”

And so Pine and Willow became friends, because Willow saved Pine from being teased and Pine saved Willow from being teased. The End.

Illustration of Pine and Willow by Leslie Osmont

Originally published in This Time They Hear You. Illustration by Leslie Osmont.

By: Adan

The Overthrow

Rise and shine! Time to overthrow the president! Time to get ready first.
Three hours later: Done! Finally. I should leave now. Well, goodbye house. Maybe I’ll see you again one day.
Hmmm, I think I should follow the highway map, but wait– NO! Dangit, the map says I have to go through the jungle to get to the president, so I guess I have to.
Ugh, here I go. It’s so greeny, so leafy, so… jungly?

Part One
I rip off a piece of jungle leaf. I see a yellow “M” in the distance, and I run to it. It is a McDonald’s– an abandoned one too. I am parched, sad, happy– all at the same time. I have no choice but to look for ingredients for a burger, or be forced to eat an old hamburger from the Dumpster.
I look through the cabinets and I find a bun, ketchup, cheese, ham, and lettuce. I try to turn on the oven and it works! I cook the ham and I make the hamburger. It is pretty good, considering I’m horrible at cooking.
I leave the abandoned McDonald’s. At least my appetite is gone, but now I am kinda worried because there’s dark red eyes like cherries… in the trees? Uh…now I’m really in big trouble. I’ll just…tiptoe…out of here…it might work…almost there…phew! I-I…I made it out! Alive! In one piece! I think the way out is finally near, but first I need to find a scientist lab.
Hey, is that a university? I guess it’ll do. I walk up to it, walk in, and there’s a scientist! I see white coats on the side, bwahehe. I walk up to a scientist and pretend that I am one, too! I comment, “Hi…so…” Then I just leave him, haha. Awkward. BUT! I see some goodies to steal. Bwahehe.
I run up to the goodies and– wait, what? They’re just plastic, and I should be called Mr. Embarrassing. Hey, I see some real goodies. Hoho! What do we have here? Jackpot! I say, “It’s potion of sleepiness!” Time to get out of here. But wait, I see a way, way better potion: a potion of invisibility!
Hehe, that’ll sure be useful to take out the president!
I walk into the jungle and go back to my house. I am here! I never thought I would be back! I guess I’ll go to sleep.
Huem…nom…num…wait, what? Am? I? Having a flashback of my mission from today? I am! In my brain!? I guess so…wait, I remember! The red eyes– wait, no way. My flashback shows me that the red eyes were just bugs. All that excitement for nothing. I’ll go back to sleep now.

Part Two
Rise and shine! Time to overthrow the president.
Go outside. No! No jungle! I’d rather take the long highway path. Forty-five minutes later. I’m finally here. Bwahaha.
Jump over gate. I break into the mansion, haha! Go the president’s main office. I’m right outside his office door. Now for the moment of truth. Wait! The potions– I still have them! I hold them both in my hands! Hehe. Here I go! I open the door.
Wait, what?

Part Three
“Uhhmmm…you are retiring Mr. President?” I put the potions in my pocket. “So Mr. President, can I be the new president?”
“Yeah, sure. Goodbye now.”
I close the door and scream, “YES! Yay! YAY! Missssiiioooonnnn COMPLETE!”

By: Junior

Malcolm X and Greg

This November, 826DC is thrilled to publish our very first compendium: a collection of the best of the best from our first five years. To celebrate the release here on the blog we will be posting a weekly podcast consisting of selections from the book, read aloud by students, volunteers, staff, and other friends of 826DC. So find a comfy spot and get ready to listen, savor, and share the words of our most inspiring young authors. This project is made possible in part by support from AT&T Aspire.

You Will Be Able to Say a Thousand Words collects the best writing from 826DC’s first five years of running fun and unique writing-based programs. Spanning genres and styles, students ages 6-18 imagine dangers on the high seas, struggles with bullying, and mourn loved ones. From advice to their former selves to advice for the reader, students begin a journey that starts on the page and ends in the boundlessness of the imagination.

This week’s featured piece from the collection is “Malcolm X and Greg” by Junior, first published in the After-School Tutoring chapbook, How to Act Like a Human. Reading it for us is Julie, a fifth grader who currently attends After-School Tutoring.

yabp 11

Once upon a time, there was a superhero named Greg. He was just about to finish his freshman year of college in DC. He went to The George Washington University. One day, he flew up to the sky and saw that someone was in trouble, so he flew down and saved him. After the savery, he had just noticed that the person he saved was Malcolm X. So then, Malcolm X hired Greg as his bodyguard and his messenger.

But one day, Greg got a vacation so he left with his girlfriend to go to Georgia, where his family was. So one day, when Greg was in Georgia, Malcolm X got shot giving a speech in New York City. Just when Greg heard the news, he flew back to New York City. When he got to New York City, Malcolm X was dead.

Greg decided to go to Malcolm X’s family to tell them the bad news. After that, Greg did not have a job so he went back to saving the world and going to college.

Greg had a dream about what would have happened if he didn’t take the vacation that Malcolm X had offered him. His dream was that he didn’t take the vacation and he stayed with Malcolm X. When Malcolm X was giving a speech in New York City there were some people disguised that were trying to kill Malcolm X. So Malcolm X started to give his speech and, at the middle of the speech, Greg saw the people that were trying to kill Malcolm X. So, Greg went into the audience to get to them before they committed the crime. Just when Greg saw them, the people were already taking their guns out and Greg ran as fast as he could and smacked the gun out of the guy’s hand and arrested him. He went to jail, and Greg saved Malcolm X again.

After that, everything went back to normal and everyone lived happily ever after.

By: Sydney

Candy Art Island

One day, I was reading in my room, just relaxing, when I heard Samba music in my backyard! I went to the back and found Sydney, Brendan, Ciahna, and our relatives. They said they found a magical island called “Candy Art Island.” We went to the island and dropped off our suitcases in our gingerbread apartments. We went to a restaurant called “Le Candy.” After that, we went on a gummy bear safari and found a purple gummy bear named Pearl. Then, we went to “Lemonade Beach” where the water is actually lemonade! We all drank lemonade. After that, we dug for gummy worms so we could go fishing, but it started hailing snow cones so we had to go inside. We watched a show about “How to Train a Gummy Bear 2.” The hailing stopped pretty soon, so we swam with sea turtles. We did tons of stuff at Candy Art Island, but, sadly, fifteen weeks later, we had to go back home.

Au revoir, Candy Art Island!

By: Dina, Grade 4


It was a gray and rainy day. Kimberly looked out of the window and thought, “Oh no, indoor recess today. I’m going to get in a fight with Erica.” She felt worried, like she had butterflies in her stomach.

Kimberly, who had blond hair and was short, had started walking with her friends when Erica came and bumped into her.

Kimberly said, “Watch it.”

Erica said, “What did you say to me?”

Kimberly said, “You deaf?”

Erica ran away with her friends. Erica and Kimberly were enemies because their parents were enemies.

Kimberly went to her class. She sat in the back, because she never paid attention, and just doodled on a piece of paper.

BRRINGG! The bell rang for recess and lunch. Kimberly went to her locker and got her lunch. She sat down when she heard Erica whispering to her friends, and she overheard her name.

Kimberly hit the table with her hands and told Erica, “Why you talking about me?”

Erica said, “Because I feel like it.”

“Well, you can’t talk about me in front of me because you wouldn’t like nobody talking about you,” said Kimberly, leaving the table and going to another table. Kimberly felt really proud about what she had said to Erica. It made Erica’s mouth shut.

At recess Kimberly was playing tag in the cafeteria when the teacher said, “Time to go back to class.”

In class, Kimberly was still doodling on her paper, and she forgot what she had to do. She was almost asleep in her seat when the bell rang for dismissal. When she went to her locker to put her stuff away, there was a note, and it said: Meet me at the park. –Erica.

Kimberly was surprised. She didn’t know what to do: go to the park or go home. So she thought, “If I go, she’s going to think I’m not scared. But if I don’t go, she’s going to think that I am a scaredy cat.”

She went, and Erica was by herself, crying, and her black hair was down.

Kimberly asked, “Why are you crying?”

“Because I feel so bad that we are not friends because of our parents,” said Erica.

Kimberly said, “I have to go.” She left, running and thinking of what Erica said.

Kimberly tried to ask her parents about the big fight that her parents and Erica’s parents had, but her mom didn’t want to tell Kimberly the problem. Kimberly was still thinking about what Erica had told her.

The next day when she went to class, she had to sit next to Erica. Erica was smiling at her every time Kimberly looked at her. Kimberly wanted to be her friend so bad, but their parents were going to get mad at them.

The bell rang and Kimberly ran to her locker, got her lunch, and went to the lunchroom. She ate fast and went to recess as fast as a cheetah because she loved outdoor recess.

Kimberly was playing tag with her friends Andrea and Alessandra when Erica came and said, “Can I play?”

Kimberly said, “Fine.”

They all played tag together. Then, when they were walking to her class, Erica said, “Friends now?”

Kimberly said, “Okay, but what about our parents?”

“It doesn’t matter because true friends don’t care what happens. They still have their friendship,” said Erica. They both walked to the classroom together as friends forever.

By: Deng

Story from Fractured Fairytales

Max, Crista, and Jack got a mission alert so they had to go, but their grandma needed them, but they needed to go to the mission. They were built to save people.

Goldilocks and the three humans named Max, Crista, and Jack have different bionics. Max has force field monkala canse, Crista has super speed, and Jack has super strength. Blowthing blast! Then they go on a mission. Max and Jack saved people, but Crista went to help the grandma, and Goldilocks said, “nice job” for saving people.

They were happy.

By: Aaron, Andrew, Deng, Nancy, and Naomi

Dosih and the Chipotle Armies

Once upon a time, in a castle that was super creepy with lots of vines, Doish, a hedgehog, was eating a hamburger full of bugs. He was looking for a key. The key opens a lot of diamonds, gold, and money. A princess was captured and in a cage with chipotle armies. The cage was in all of the treasure.

Doish has to pass 600 Chipotle armies, and the last one is the strongest. Doish has to eat the whole army by putting on whip cream, chocolate, cherries, and cookies and cream, and then he gets the key. Then he uses his super strength to save the princess and get the treasure.

By: Christopher


In a dystopian future, a man named John searches for a way to escape. In this scene, John has just woken up with no memories or recollections. he wanders into a trap where he is chased by a robotic creature and finds himself in a metal underground room with others like him.

Rebecca walked out of the room followed by Elizabeth, and shut the door behind herself. As soon as they left, two robotic limbs stretched out of the ceiling. John looked up and saw that each limb was made up of a tube of glowing blue liquid and a long needle.

“Not again.” John grimaced as the needle stuck deeper and deeper into his neck and felt the blue material traveling through his veins and throughout his head. By the time it had enveloped his head, his eyes had turned a blindingly bright blue and he was no in a different reality. Everything became enlightened. It was as if someone had turned on the sun. The space was brimming with the luminous white light being produced by… John couldn’t tell what it was being produced by. He looked forward and all that was there was a white expanse that stretched on forever in all directions with him standing dead center.

“Hello there.”

John turned around to a glowing figure at first too bright to see. As his eyes adjusted, a beautiful woman began to come into view. She had long flowing hair that went to her waist and a very feminine figure.

“So you’re the woman of my dreams?”

She giggled, “Not quite. This is just my avatar. My name is Luna and I can explain everything, but first I have something for you.” She reached out her hand and John took it. As soon as he made contact the light began to flow from her arm through him and he fell back in shock.

“I can… I can remember everything!” John began seeing vivid images in his mind. They were images of his former life. They were dry and almost incomprehensible glimpses of the same thing that seemed to repeat infinitely.

“These memories, they don’t exactly tell me much.”

“Of course not. You were in a complete mind suck for your entire life under their control. I didn’t expect you would learn much from them. Allow me to explain everything.”

“Okay, where do we start?”

“It begins with the Old World. Not long ago this was a world of violence and hate, of war and of fighting. Human conflict only elevated over the years. After almost 5 centuries of constant fighting they had become weary of their war hungry habits and began inventing artificial intelligence to control their nations. But they never did away with their weapons. Then there was a time of great peace. AI, unlike their human creators, don’t have a natural need for destruction. At least when they’re sane. Earlier, more primitive AI weren’t well created and only lasted for a period of 12 years. After that, they would begin to outthink themselves and develop a form of insanity that exists only for AI and spreads rampantly. Either way they were still much more intelligent than their human counterparts. The Old World ended only 2 centuries later, when a Syncorps AI went rampant and released a synthetic virus that killed most of the inhabitants of Earth. Syncorps survived.”

“Syncorps? I remember something about that name.”

“I would expect you did. Their name is plastered to every object in this Dome. They were the largest technology syndicate in the world. They invented and provided almost all innovation and technology in the Old World. They created the many AIs and all of the weapons. They were masters of bioengineering and they mistakenly created the virus that would eventually wipe out almost all of humanity. The higher-ups of Syncorps, however, were immune. With the world they had once known gone, they set out to make a new one. A better one. It began with a utopian city that would be the perfect society that could never be achieved naturally. It took half a century for the clones they developed to finish while they napped away in cryosleep. When they woke up they stood in a gleaming city protected by an indestructible shield dome. Now they needed inhabitants. They created an artificial gene pool that was then crossed several times to create thousands of people who were grown instead of born.”

“So why does everyone look the same?”

“The genes were originally derived from the woman who spearheaded the program. They could only be modified so much until the defect rate skyrocketed. So, everyone ended up looking like her. The last thing they needed was someone to control the city. So they used me. I was a prototype created just before the end by taking thousands of neural scans from real people and fusing them into one system. I’m the most advanced AI ever created and I don’t go rampant. I’m genetically encoded into almost every resident’s mind. Everyone but the council’s.”

“Who are the council?”

“They’re what remains of Syncorps. They are the controllers. They are the reason I need you and your brotherhood. Over the centuries they have preserved their consciousness by switching though clones of their bodies as their old ones age. But they have become corrupt. They have started periodically taking some of my memories as well as those of the inhabitants. There are various key events that they have stolen from me and have used to imprison all of Haven’s people. It took almost every ounce of energy I had to free you and the rest of the brotherhood. I need you to get those memories back for me. In doing so, we will free the world.”

“You make it sound like it’s easy.”

“It’s not. Trust me. You’re new job is to be the assassin. You will hunt down the key members of the council, and reclaim my memories for me.”

“One more question. Why me?”

“You are a genetic anomaly. You’re different from the rest. I don’t know what caused it, but it allows you to accept the catalyst I just injected into you. This way you will be able to directly extract memories from your targets’ minds, and I can show you things, not just tell you. I will give you the tools you need and your targets.”

“One problem. I’ve never trained to be an assassin.”

“Luckily for you, you don’t need to. I’ve already installed several artificial memories in your mind. These will help you a lot during your time hunting. Here, I’ll let you test them out.”

Suddenly Luna and the room disappeared. John was now standing on a busy corner of a city. John scanned the environment. He could now read what had looked like strange characters earlier.

“The council decided that the Haven inhabitants didn’t need to be able to read so it exists only for the council members. They write things in secret as sort of a code that no one else understands.” John looked down and read text off the ground. “Entrance located at coordinates 135 N 76 W.”

“I’m highlighting a path for you.”

“A clear path became illuminated against the night sky that only John could see. He followed until he reached a door that stood solemnly in the middle of the street. He opened it, the outside world evaporating behind him as he stepped inside.