When my daughter was in third grade she decided to write her own book about penguins. She scoured our National Geographic magazines for pictures and facts about penguins. She wrote the text and compiled it into several pages of information. I helped her sew together blank pages to form a booklet. She pasted her photos and text on many pages and assembled a cardboard cover which she covered with left-over wall paper.
She wanted her book to be a “real” picture book. So she included a title page, a dedication page (to the National Geographic who had helped her with so many assignments) and an “about the author” page at the end with her school photo and facts about her eight-year-old self. Her teacher asked if the book could become part of the school library. It did, and her classmates were able to check it out.
I told this story to a second grade student of mine recently, and she decided to write her own book. She entitled her book “Where is Daddy?” because her father travels frequently for work. She drew pictures of her house, such as the kitchen, the deck, and the toy box. Under each picture she wrote text. The last page shows a door, which can be opened, and behind it is a drawing of her father coming home with his suitcase. You can read the book yourself by clicking the cover below.
Perhaps it is hard to believe, but this student can be a reluctant writer who balks when I ask her to write. Yet for this book project, she took the lead, coming up with ideas and illustrating it herself. She was a writer on a mission to create a wonderful welcome home gift for her father.
From my daughter and my students I have learned how important publishing for a real audience is to children. Certainly it takes work on the part of an adult to help to create a book, a blog, a birthday card or whatever form of publishing a child desires. But unlike most school assignments, their published writing will be savored for years, and may inspire other children to write.