Fact: according to estimates, some 81% of Americans say they would like to write a book, but few of them ever will.
With mounting costs associated with traditional publishing, competition between paper books and digital formats heating up, and the need for high-profile authors to garner sales, the publishing industry has hurdles at every turn.
Unless, of course, you’re a sixth-grader at Allendale Middle School.
This semester, in honor of March is Reading Month, Mrs. Norine Fox made a way for each of her 170 students to write, illustrate, and publish their own book.
The process began in February, on a calendar dotted with snow days and late starts. Students read and listened to adventure stories to learn the components of successful storytelling. From zombie tales to kidnapping mysteries, Mrs. Fox’s readers paid attention to sensory images and the use of hooks to engage readers from the beginning.
Drawing from this fresh well of examples, students let their imaginations loose by penning their own adventure stories. Working diligently on the craft of incorporating quality, realistic dialog, sixth graders brainstormed, wrote and re-wrote their stories with the help of peer editors and the collaboration that happens in writer’s workshop.
After their stories were solid, students moved to their school computers to type, format, and print them. They added illustrations, came up with cover designs, and handed their newly completed masterpieces to their teacher.
Using the services provided by “Student Treasures” (.com), Mrs. Fox sent each completed manuscript to be professionally published in a bound, hardcover book. Student Treasures offers one book per student for free, with the option to purchase additional copies if desired. The Allendale PTO graciously covered the cost of shipping and handling for the project.
Students like Mason Felicioni held their books with reverence and awe:
“I learned how the process of making a book works. We had to go through all the steps. I had three different beginning and I kept re-working them. I made them all a part of the story. It was very fun and very rewarding. Now I have a book! We learned a bunch!”
In addition to all the publishing excitement in sixth grade, Mrs. Fox and Mrs. Bagley also sponsored the annual March is Reading Month poster contest for all students in grades 6-8. The goal of each poster must be to celebrate reading or to encourage others to read.
Mrs. Fox and Mrs. Bagley display all submitted posters in the library windows without names so that the entire student body could vote impartially. The first place artist’s work is framed and displayed in the school library for one year, and all three top finishers also receive a $5 gift certificate for use at the spring book fair.
Congratulations to this year’s winners, Jessica Chojnaki: 1st place, Taylor Adams: 2nd place, and Jarrad Guerrero: 3rd place!
We applaud the way these young readers have passionately embraced the power of the written word. To borrow Jessica’s winning poster title, life is magical “when books come to life!”