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Pelham High School students Aja Bell, left, Lora Kral, second from left, Valley Elementary School first-grader Kathryn and PHS student Haley Giffin, right, at VES during the Children's Book Project day. (Contributed)
Pelham High School students Aja Bell, left, Lora Kral, second from left, Valley Elementary School first-grader Kathryn and PHS student Haley Giffin, right, at VES during the Children's Book Project day. (Contributed)

Archived Story

An awesome literary anniversary

Published 10:00am Friday, May 10, 2013

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

This year marks the 10th anniversary of our Children’s Book Project, which allows PHS writers to read about Pelham first graders, choose children to write for and complete book proposals to earn the privilege of writing for their chosen audience of one.

After students create books, we travel to Valley Elementary where my teens meet the children they’ve written for and share their masterpieces. My students read and talk with the elementary school students and spend delightful time on the playground where they play tag and zip down slides.

When we leave, the first-graders keep their books. My students are taught that sharing their talent takes courage—and that sharing gives those talents immeasurable value. I often wonder if they really internalize this lesson. This year, I’m convinced they understand.

“Giving my work away was nice. Knowing my work would belong to someone else pushed me to work harder,” freshman Casey Brooks said.

“Giving the book away was ten times better than keeping it because Raul was looking at the book, loving it and appreciating it more than we, the creators, ever would,” junior Belle Griffin said.

“I was afraid our first grader wouldn’t like the book, but Tenzin loved his book making me twice as excited; seeing his face light up made me feel like a professional author,” said sophomore Baylee Swan. “My first grader inspired me to never fear sending my work into the world. Thank you Tenzin!”

In 2004, PHS writers created our first children’s books for kindergarteners. Next year, those 2004 kindergarteners start high school. PHS administrators have established two periods of creative writing classes because almost 50 students are signed up for creative writing I, II and III. Perhaps some of these students were in that first kindergarten class to receive books.

“This was a five-star experience—such a sweet memory! Thanks for such an awesome experience,” said junior Kathryn Clemmons.

My thanks to my students, our precious young audiences, their parents and all of the administrators and teachers who have made this creative community partnership an awesome, ongoing success.

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