Pupil publishers do it all -- from writing story to designing jacket

May 26, 1994|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,Sun Staff Writer

Students at Oak Hill Elementary are doing more than just reading books in their classrooms. They are writing and illustrating their own.

Students in a second-grade and a fifth-grade class wrote their own stories, illustrated pages, designed covers and book jackets and even bound their 16-page artistic works in a project that teachers said helped them with reading, writing, and creative thinking skills.

The school is holding an author-illustrator party in its media center today to display the books and share them with other students in the school.

"It's the best thing I've ever done," said Marianne Kendrick, the second-grade teacher who began the program a year ago. "The students are not critical of anyone else's work, they're not jealous, and they're really proud. There's not much you can do in schools that does that."

Mrs. Kendrick used "Written and Illustrated by . . .," a book by David Milton that guides users through the book-making process. It includes examples of contracts with publishers.

The process is tedious, but Mrs. Kendrick and Faye Stitz, the fifth-grade teacher, push the students to complete the project in about a month to stimulate their creative thinking.

This year, they wrote stories in which they were heroes and saved their friends, and about sick days at home, magic powers, and a missing peanut.

The students start by signing a writing contract with companies they named.

"They apply to the company, and they're all hired as art editors. It really gives them a sense of what they would have to do in the real world," Mrs. Stitz said.

After the stories are typed and perfected, parent volunteers help mount the pictures and text on both sides of eight, 11-inch by 17-inch pages. The pages are folded in half to make a 16-page book.

The children sew the book into a cardboard cover that they decorate with contact paper and make paper book jackets to cover their projects. The insides of the jackets include information about the story and about the author.

A few students even included a dedication page. One read, "To Mrs. Kendrick for all she gave to help me write this book."

Mrs. Kendrick says writing a book is an invaluable experience for her 8-year-olds.

"They'll go out of second grade, and I don't think they'll ever look at a book the same way again. They were so excited to put their names on the spine," she said. "Self-esteem is really high."

And the youngsters in Mrs. Kendrick's class were very proud of their work.

"Making the books was hard work, but they were very nice," said Chris Gardner, one of Mrs. Kendrick's students.

"I really wanted to do these books so that I could give them to my children and they could give it to their children," added Elizabeth Chapela, another second-grader.

But the best part, according to Mrs. Kendrick, was including all her students in the project.

"What I liked was this is something the whole class could do. It's creative and functional," she said.

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