By Joseph Pratt
February 13, 2014
PDT Staff Writer
There are several published authors walking around the halls of Portsmouth Elementary School this week, proudly carrying around copies of their own written work and giving public readings.
In fact, there are over a hundred authors walking around. The entire sixth grade class and two second grade classes have published books of their very own, which just recently came in and teachers say have the kids more than excited.
Christy Bobst, sixth grade English teacher at Portsmouth Elementary, said that she has been working with her students on creating the books since October. They began as mystery stories that were seasonal to Halloween, but she decided to take them further and give the kids the opportunity to publish. The student publishers used a program called Student Treasures Publishing Company. The company sends a kit to the classroom that walks the students through the process, from designing a cover page to typing the story. The students send the materials back to the company and they get back a bound book with all of their material.
“I really think the students learned a lot from this project. They got to experience the publishing process, see how it works, discover what goes into it and how much time you have to dedicate to finish a story and have it ready for print,” Bobst said.
Jayla St. John, sixth grade, wrote seven pages of text, without counting illustrations.
“It’s about these twins, Zoe and Zack. They have this little sister who is going to a sleepover. The little sister is playing hide-and-seek with her friends and goes missing. The twins and their two friends have special powers they can use and they have to go find her. They find these notes and clues, which they follow to see where they are lead to next,” she said.
St. John said it feels good to be published and she would like to continue writing. She said that she recently bought a new journal for her next story, in which she might expand on her previous one about twins Zoe and Zack.
“I really like writing, because it is a way you can put yourself in another person’s position, like what they feel, see and how they react to things. I’ve always wanted to be an author and I feel this is the first step to that,” she said.
Her advice to other writers is to look at the aspects in your own life to use for inspiration. She admitted that many of the characters in her book are modeled off of herself and a circle of her friends.
Jeffrey Anderson, sixth grade, wrote a 14-page story that is full of illustrations of his sci-fi fantasy where two kids go on an adventure to find their lost dad. Anderson said that he has always liked science fiction, and given the opportunity he used his full imagination to pen a story involving alien abduction, the cure for cancer and many more science based ideas.
Anderson said that he was most excited to see his parent’s reactions when he told them he was publishing his own book.
Becca Cyrus’s second grade class is one of the participants in the class book project. Cyrus said she and her class brainstormed what to make and they decided on an ABC book. The Christmas themed book presents a holiday symbol for every letter of the alphabet, in which each student was in charge of a letter.
“We researched the best way to write an ABC book, we checked out lots of ABC books from the library, we brainstormed and worked for weeks to finish it,” Cyrus said. “There was lots of editing and revising and learning about being authors and illustrators, but the kids loved it. This is something I think they’ll remember for a long time and their parents are pretty proud. At least half of the students bought a copy of their own.”
Cyrus’s students have expressed a lot of pride in their work and even visited the different classes in PES for book readings. Hayden Lewis is one of the authors in Cyrus’s class and is happy to see his work exactly how he imagined it.
“The book took a few weeks and a few days to make. It just came in today I was kind of excited, because I really wanted to read it and see how it came out how we wanted it. We read it as soon as it came in and we liked how it turned out.”
Lewis said that his section was exactly how he wrote it, “W is for the wreath, that we put on the wall, so we can deck the halls.”
“I think when the students hear about authors and illustrators, they think they are so far from that,” Cyrus explained. “I think showing them this and letting them publish a book has really opened things up for them; they can see it is obtainable, especially since they’re in second grade and have already done it.”
Joseph Pratt can be reached at the Portsmouth Daily Times 740-353-3101 EXT 287 or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.