Over the last few years the local library runs a story writing/book making competition.  Jess has won her age group twice and Josh once.  The children have always been keen writers and getting a book finished for this purpose has been largely self-motivated.  This year was no different – I provide the time, they work on the book!


It does take a lot of time.  We use this opportunity to work on every aspect of the book. 


We take on the role of Author – we discuss inspiration, drafts, editing, improving, writers block, and they type their story. 


We take on the role of Illustrator – we discuss if it is a picture book or a storybook and the consequent dependence on the illustrations, we discuss style and mediums, this time we actually needed to discuss proportion (as Josh wanted to enlarge his original drawings to fit the book shape). 


We take on the role of Publisher (this incorporates a typesetter and printer) – we discuss the size and orientation of the book, the fonts to use and the size of the print, what words on what page, where the illustrations go – are more illustrations needed.  Depending on the computer/technology ability of each child they either scan or watch and learn the scanning process to scan in their artwork, they use publisher to arrange their type and illustrations and we print off a draft, which gets proofed.  The “Author” confirms it as okay. And then it goes to print!


Yesterday we completed our books.  Seeing them all completed gave me opportunity to see what had actually happened – not only the book writing / publishing efforts but in the big picture of our children’s learning.  I saw their skills and how they were developing.


I was particularly pleased to notice that each one of them had chosen to do something that was different to what they had done before – they stretched themselves.  I was even more thrilled at this because it came from within them – after all, I didn’t notice it till the books were handed into the library!


Joshua wrote, and I quote from his back cover, “A dinosaur book for little kids based on Biblical truth!”  It would have been easy for Josh to write a regular story – he probably has several on the go at any one time, but he spent a lot of time making this junior non-fiction book.  He looked at layouts of junior books, the colour and style of illustrations, the wording, the size of fonts and the general layouts of books.  This was something he had never done before!


Jessica wrote a story about a battle in the land of dinosaurs.  It is cleverly written with a twist to the outcome.  It is one of the best stories she has written.  But she went an extra step in the illustrations.  She decided to use photography – to set up a back drop, use model dinosaurs and a tiny doll as the person and take close ups to illustrate the few major happenings in her story.  This was something that she had never done before!


This was Nomi’s first storybook.  We took this opportunity to work with her using the different components of a story – a setting, an introductory happening, a crisis, and a solution.  She had to work at keeping to this structure else her stories got so involved you literally got lost and had no idea.  She has no problem with getting words on paper – it is just the organization.  We worked on Nomi producing the “word” side of things, which left her with time to draw only 2 pictures, which was new for Nomi as she is an Artist and usually spends a lot of time drawing.  The writing to this extent was something she had never done before!


Daniel wanted to write a book and then he didn’t and then he did.  So I decided he could write the story and then we would see if it went to the library or not.  Once the book was made he decided he did and then he didn’t want it to go to the library – even though he had his own copy in his own hands.  I submitted it anyway as I think ultimately he would have been disappointed if he saw everyone else had a book on display.  He narrated his story to Jessica who typed it.  I arranged the type and Daniel chose and positioned the clip art, which he used for illustrations.  Daniel is very familiar with clip art as I have used them with him before, and now he uses a clip art programme, to make himself colouring sheets.  The whole narrating a story and seeing a book come together was something Daniel had never done before!


So when I look back and see that we haven’t done very much in the way of our Language Arts “lessons” this term I have to look at these books and see not only their language skills growing but also their art and their technology.  It has been a very rewarding term.

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 Every week I'll email an encouragement to stay intentional and relational in all your family life.  But for now, download your set of reminder posters - posters which I've used over the years to remind me to keep my eyes and heart on what is important.

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