There’s nothing quite like picking up a book and finding your name. On Wednesday, March 15, 40 grade 7 and 8 students at Riverview East Academy experienced this feeling during the school's first-ever book signing event.
Haleigh Dehn, grade 7 and 8 ELA teacher at Riverview, noticed that many of her students were struggling to find a voice in their class writings. She thought, if students published a book filled with personal narratives, their self-efficacy in their ability to write would improve.
“It wasn't that they didn't know how to write. It was mostly that they didn't trust themselves as writers,” explained Dehn.
The class started the project by researching and reading other famous personal narratives before composing their own. Students then took on the brainstorming, drafting and editing before submitting their final stories.
Dehn said that while all of her students had to participate in the writing process, not all of them had to add their stories to the book’s publication. A contributing authors page was added to the book to keep students’ stories anonymous.
“I like to write a lot, and I appreciated having this opportunity to flex my writing skills,” said Madalynn Jackson, 8th-grade student at Riverview East.
Of the class, 40 students co-wrote the 106-page book with uniquely personal stories. Topics of the stories ranged from family losses to summer love.
“Immediately when we got the books in, I showed the kids,” said Dehn. “Students that I have really struggled with in getting them to pick up a book and read were instantly flipping through the books, trying to find their story. They were just smiling ear to ear.”
The students gathered for an after-school book signing where family and friends were invited to purchase a copy and listen to a few select students read their excerpts.
“It is fascinating to know that something that I wrote has now been published,” said Libbry French, 8th-grade student at Riverview East.
Dehn said the project will return after seeing the effect the project had with her students.