A quiet group of young authors entered a second-grade classroom at Grandview Elementary ready to collaborate.
El Dorado High School creative writing teacher Heather Fangmann came up with the idea for her students to partner with second grade students to create children’s books after she was contacted about a project called the Storybook Trail happening in El Dorado this spring.
A collaboration between the non-profit group El Dorado Togetherhood, the El Dorado YMCA and El Dorado Parks and Recreation, the Storybook Trail will take place on successive dates this spring at different parks around town. Stories will be presented, and to get from the beginning of a story to the end, patrons will walk and inadvertently exercise.
Fangmann and Storybook Trail representatives thought the Storybook Trail would be an opportunity for USD 490 students to get involved in the community. Fangmann contacted her son’s teacher, Michelle Lang at Grandview Elementary, and the two decided that Fangmann’s students would each write a children’s book, and Lang’s students would get into groups and become illustrators for the books.
The high school students have spent time studying children’s literature so each student could write a children’s book. They checked out children’s books from the library to prepare.
“Trying to figure out what the second-grade reading level was was challenging,” Fangmann said. “I told them each story needed to have some kind of a lesson.”
Lang’s students are learning about how a book is created.
“They are learning the process of how an author works with an illustrator,” Lang said. “That’s a huge thing for second grade, seeing how the actual product is made.”
Fangmann’s son, Mason McCluggage, 8, is working with his friend Theron Mays, 8, to illustrate Abby Chapman’s book, “The Tale of Two Very Different Kingdoms.” Mason drew a UFO with an alien.
“It’s a cool story,” he said. “We have a lot of time to do our drawings.”
High school student Jon Chowning wrote “Holly Zales the Fearful,” and second graders Izzy Todd and Sophia Crawford are illustrating the book.
“The story is about not being afraid to show who you are,” Izzy said. “Doing books is really fun.”
Chowning said he was a bit apprehensive to write a children’s book, but he is pleased with how the experience is turning out.
“I like the interactiveness,” he said. “It’s a different experience. I haven’t done something like this before.”
The second graders will finish illustrations on their own and return them to Fangmann. The high school students then will put the books together and bind them. The high school students will return to Grandview in late April to present a self-illustrated book to each second-grade student.
Fangmann and Lang said they thought it was a positive experience for students to work together. Another plus is the collaboration is allowing students the opportunity to be involved in the community with the Storybook Trail; details about how the students’ work will be involved in the project will be discussed in a future blog.
“Some of my students love working with kids, and some haven’t had the opportunity to do much of that before,” Fangmann said. “I think they’ve done pretty well."