Bodkin pupils publish their work ANNE ARUNDEL EDUCATION

MAKING BOOKS FROM BEGINNING TO END

April 05, 1993|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff Writer

Fourth-graders at Bodkin Elementary School acknowledge they had trouble imagining all the steps an author goes through when writing a book -- until they had to do it themselves.

The students in Denise Koch's fourth-grade class have spent nearly the entire school year working on that very project. Soon, they will have their own books to show for their efforts -- real ones, too, complete with illustrations and bound in a hard cover.

"It's a lot harder work than it seems," says Brad Lines, 10. "I knew some of the steps that went into writing a book, but I didn't know them all."

Brad's book is about a captain who sailed to an unknown island, supposedly inhabited by monsters and demons.

"But he found out it was really the natives trying to scare people off," Brad finished.

The students' books are published by Tail's End Publishing, a small group of Chesapeake Middle School students who sew the pages of the books together with dental floss, attach them to a hard cardboard cover with artwork on it, and put binding tape around the spine. The result looks just like the books the children see in stores.

The program started under the auspices of the Maryland Student Literacy Corps, which sponsors reading incentive programs in a few Anne Arundel County schools. But book-writing quickly spread from Mrs. Koch's class throughout the school.

Now, even Susan Julian's first-graders are getting into the act.

"In first grade, they don't know a whole lot about writing when they first come to school in September, so we let them use 'invented' spelling," Ms. Julian said.

For instance, a student might write "cht" when he or she really meant "catch." Parent volunteers ask students what their made-up words really mean, and help them learn the correct spelling of the word.

For Christina Marinakis, a 9-year-old in Ms. Koch's fourth-grade class, this year's book will be her second.

"My book is dedicated to one of my best friends -- Suzanne Heidler," said Christina. "It's about how she wanted a horse, and her parents wouldn't get her one, so she worked and worked and worked until she could buy a horse."

Christina says she enjoyed working on the project so much that she even found she liked the rewriting process.

"I like to find out what my mistakes were and do better," she said. "I want to be an author when I grow up."

The children's final drafts are typed by parent volunteers, who carefully leave space for illustrations. Parents also help children proofread their copy, correcting spelling and grammar errors.

Soon the books will be sent to Tail's End, and the students will be invited to Chesapeake Middle School for an authors' tea in May.

"It's really good to have a tie with the middle school," said Kris Lines, Brad's mother, who was in school one day last week to help students edit their work.

On Wednesday, though, students at Chesapeake Middle will be visiting the elementary school to teach the fourth-graders in Mrs. Koch's class how to put the books together by themselves.

"Other teachers and students were so enthusiastic when they saw my class doing it, that they started doing it," said Ms. Koch. "Now, we have too many books for Tail's End Publishing to handle, so we're starting our own publishing company -- Bulldog Publishing -- named after the school mascot."

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