Publishing Student Writing: Hosting a Young Author's Day
written by: Kena Sosa
• edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom
• updated: 9/11/2012
Your child may not remember everything they did in school that made you proud, but they will remember becoming an author for the first time and when they received their own published book in their hands. At the same time, publishing student writing can be just as rewarding for teachers, too.
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Planning for Publishing
The first step an organizer of a Young Author's Day event should take is to arrange for publication of student books ahead of time. There are a few companies who offer free or very affordable book publishing to students. The one which I have used before is Student Treasures. With Student Treasures, the students are provided a book publishing kit which contains the actual pages to be bound in the student book as well as a cover to design. Parents will be sent home letters offering them the chance to purchase additional copies of the book, however, purchase is not required. All students who submit a complete book kit by their assigned deadline will receive their original bound copy for free. As one can imagine, the program fills up quickly, so you must act quickly in reserving their services for publishing student writing. Check their contact information at www.studentreasures.com.
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Give students a head start in prewriting and thinking out their stories, then guiding and aiding in editing their writing to create the best Young Author’s Day book the student is capable of writing. Librarian and teachers are facilitators in publishing student writing, not the writers of the books. Librarian and teachers will discuss plagiarism with the students and reinforce it by defining it and setting the standards, both as far as writing conventions and content are concerned, however the best books will come from students who were given open prompts or free choice of their topics. Children in Kinder, first and sometimes second grade should be writing a class book that needs extra facilitation by the teacher and to be written and illustrated by the class. The students will first decide together whom the characters will be, their setting, problem and solution for their story. Then as a class they will write it. The teacher can then break down the story into pieces as to what sentence(s) and illustration(s) will go on each page. Older students will be guided through this process individually.
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Returned books can be evaluated (although I am not sure if it is fair to grade as each student has their own strengths and weaknesses both in the categories of writing and illustration). Sample rubrics can be seen in our media gallery for the categories of both class books and individual books on publishing student writing.
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Young Author's Day events
Young Author's Day schedules and events can vary, however, if possible to arrange, a local author's presence and presentation should be available to discuss their own books and motivate the students to keep writing. For many students this may be the first or only time they meet an actual author. Some local authors will donate their services while others will need an honorarium. See local writing chapters of Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators for possible contacts. If an author is available, they might give the closing remarks after students are presented with their own books. You might choose to select the top three books in each grade level to give special awards such as trophies or ribbons, but all students should receive their book and at least a certificate of participation, as well as being recognized in front of their peers. Publishing student writing this publicly will make them even more eager to participate in the following year's Young Author's Day event.