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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Acclaimed jazz saxophonist Tia Fuller has made a name for herself appearing with such high-profile artists as Beyonce, Esperanza Spalding, and Terri Lyne Carrington. Tia and her quartet performed music from her CD “Angelic Warrior” on our latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."