Students share talent through children’s books
Published 10:48 am Tuesday, May 17, 2016
By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist
The end of an era sometimes tiptoes in quietly. With a whirlwind of May activities, including 18 children’s books and a literary magazine under production, complicated by a scanner’s sudden death, my student writers and I find ourselves loading the bus for Valley Elementary School to take books they’ve spent several weeks researching, planning and creating for first-graders.
The writers begin each year presenting their favorite children’s books, remembering as senior Lauryn Schilleci said, “What it was like to love children’s books.”
We research media about current first graders’ developmental levels and partial engagement in fantastical thinking.
Students study the surveys that our first graders create. My writers submit book proposals pitching ideas for particular students, assignments are made, artists are discovered in class or recruited, page-by-page plans are created and Bare Books arrive.
Serious student writers agonize over word parameters for first-graders or collaborate to craft a seadog.
If the collaborative process goes awry, their first graders’ photos appear grinning down from the classroom projector screen.
High school students focus selflessly. This field trip to Valley Elementary will be their first book tour, they will meet their first adoring audience, and perhaps that healthy focus on gifting their talents in book form to a child alleviates the stress of waiting for scholarship decisions and standardized test results.
Before we exit the bus, they listen.
“Giving your creations away is hard. If you kept your books, in a few weeks, they’d be forgotten. Because you’re sharing your talent with your first graders, that talent becomes their treasure. Remember that in the future when you’re tempted to keep your talent to yourself. Release your talents so they become treasures.”
The first graders receive their books with glee.
Their teacher, Mrs. Haines, radiates energy remembering the high school students who were once her first-graders.
Valley Elementary will not be our destination next spring because a new school is opening. Our children’s book project will continue.
Paths change, but the destination of collaborative, creative teamwork makes the journey amazingly worthwhile.