News / Arts & Entertainment

Young Student Authors Learn to Express Themselves

With Imagination, Little Readers Become Authorsi
X
Faiza Elmasry
April 12, 2014 10:45 AM
Reading a book can stretch the imagination, encourage thinking 'outside the box', and expand horizons. Writing a book can do even more. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, having children create their own books is one of the strategies some teachers and parents use to help youngsters develop creativity and a love of reading at an early age. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Faiza Elmasry
Reading a book can stretch the imagination, encourage thinking 'outside the box,' and expand horizons.  Writing a book can do even more.  Having children create their own books is one of the strategies many teachers and parents use to help youngsters develop creativity and a love of reading at an early age.
 
In a third grade classroom at Taylor Elementary school in Arlington, Virginia, the eight and nine-year-olds are busy writing, coloring and talking with their teacher.  They are young authors, and today, each student is working on a story of their choice.  Avalon Bennett is almost done writing her book.  She titled it “Maleficent.”  It features the villain from the Walt Disney animated classic, “Sleeping Beauty.”  She likes the process.
 
“It’s fun, designing your own book and being able to color it and being able to pick the topic,” she said.

Her teacher, Paul DiBenedetto, has his students create between five and six books throughout the school year, about whatever they've been studying.

“It’s not part of the curriculum; writing is part of the curriculum,” said DiBenedetto.  “You want students to be writing, but it’s a way to express themselves and to be creative.”

Creating a book begins with the children finding the ideas that interest them, writing a draft and then editing what they wrote.

“Once the editing process is done,” he said, “then they go to the final copy, which is on computer.  We try to get them on the computer so they are using the technology.”

In the process, he says, students learn to think like an author.

“They start asking the question about whether it’s going along with the topic sentence," he said. "Do I have enough details?  And then they kind of figure out once they get to the concluding sentence or the ending of the story, ‘Oh, does that go along with my story?”

No matter what grade level he's teaching, DiBenedetto always assigns his students to write a book.

“From the first grade, I’m expecting one to three sentences,” he explained.  “Third grade, we’re talking about paragraphs.  I’m looking for four to five [paragraphs].  Then, in the 5th grade you are looking for a lot more than that.  They are doing a lot of narrative on pages.”

Children’s book author Holly Karapetkova, a literature professor at Marymount University, says she’s happy that her eight-year-old son K.J. and his classmates are writing books at school.

“I think creating books sends them back to books,” she said.  “It encourages them to read more, both the books they are creating and other books.”

Creating books is one of the favorite activities she’s always done at home with her children K.J. and his three-year-old sister, Kalina.

“We have made books about animals, about weather, a lot of books about letters and numbers to reinforce skills,” she added.  “One of our favorite kinds of books to make is an alphabet book, just with simple letters, then pictures, either pictures that we print out from our real photos or pictures that the children draw to match those letters.”

She says the key to keeping them interested in creating books is giving them freedom of choice.

“Kalina has been more into cooking with me lately and making things in the kitchen. I asked her what do you want to make a book about, and she said, ‘I want to make a cookbook.  So we made a cookbook," she said.

K.J. is into something else.  He’s working on a joke book and a comic book.  He has written more than a dozen books on different topics.

“It’s just fun to see all the different types of homemade books you can make,” said K.J.  “All the books that I create have like different texture, like made out of different things.  Like there is a bath book we’ve made it out of plastic bags.”

His mother hopes the skills he and Kalina are developing - writing, reading, thinking, imagining - will help them succeed in the 21st century job market.

“Who knows what kind of skills they’re going to need,” Karapetkova said.  “The technology is changing so quickly, but what I know [is that] they are going to need to know how to think.”

And that starts early, by making writing and reading an everyday fun activity.

You May Like

Sunni-Shi’ite Divide Threatens Middle East Stability

Analysts say ancient dispute that traces back to Islamic Revolution is fueling modern day unrest More

Shifting Demographics Lie Beneath Racial Tensions in Ferguson

As Missouri suburb morphed from majority white to majority black, observers say power structure remained static More

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Restriction is toughest since Soviet era, though critics reject move as patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Paquito D'Rivera, who has won 12 Grammys, is celebrated both for his artistry in Latin jazz and his achievements as a classical composer. D'Rivera's latest project, “Jazz Meets the Classics,” was released this month. He joins us on the latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."