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

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Matthew Wade sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his new CD, “Diamond from Coal,” his fourth album with his band, My Silent Bravery.