A Book About Me: Passing On the Gift of Reading
In a culture of high-stakes testing, it can be difficult as educators to provide students with authentic purposes for writing. Although the Kentucky Academic Standards require 12th grade students to “create and produce” narrative writing for grades 11 and 12, finding motivation for an assignment at that level can be challenging when little to no narrative writing is required after graduation. In addition, some students find it difficult to write and share a personal narrative and the thought of composing an entire short story can be daunting. We as educators know that when students, especially seniors, write for a genuine audience, the quality of work is better and the student is more invested. Writing a children’s book eases any anxiety a student may have and provides a familiar format in which to share his or her creative ideas. “A Book About Me” is a culminating project that requires senior English students to write, create, and share a full-color, hardback book with a 1st grade student just learning to read. In an adventure all his or her own, this emerging reader becomes the “star” of a personalized story (including the child’s picture) telling of favorite foods and overcoming biggest fears. This project not only offers an authentic purpose for creative writing, but also product ownership, a sense of community, a boost of self-esteem, and a keepsake of which the senior and the primary student can both be proud. The 12th grade writers implement the staples of creative storytelling while learning 21-century skills on the computer such as Air Drop, picture editing, text analysis, and the basic principles of graphic design. For the big reveal, seniors deliver the books to the elementary school and give their time to the children by reading to them and engaging them in conversation.