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Wed, Oct. 23

First-graders take first time in writing their memoirs

Kaity Browning, left, and Kate Annibale work on their illustrations to accompany their writings in Danette Derickson’s first-grade classroom at Liberty Traditional School in Prescott Valley Monday.

Kaity Browning, left, and Kate Annibale work on their illustrations to accompany their writings in Danette Derickson’s first-grade classroom at Liberty Traditional School in Prescott Valley Monday.

The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT VALLEY - Many teachers ask their students to create books to teach reading and writing, but not many actually publish the work.

However, the students in Danette Derickson's first-grade class at Liberty Traditional School in Prescott Valley are finishing up their own illustrations, and next week, Derickson is sending their work to a publishing company. They should receive a hardbound copy of their book by Christmas.

"They each get to write and illustrate their own story," Derickson said. "Each kid gets their own page. And so it's our class book. Every child gets their own voice."

The publishing company, Studentreasures, does not distribute the books at stores such as Barnes & Noble or Borders. Yet, parents have the chance to buy a book, and first-graders have the chance to see their hard work professionally displayed.

The idea of publishing a student book has become somewhat of a phenomenon throughout the country. Kathryn Sagar, national marketing manager for Studentreasures, said her company has been doing this for 11 years. Currently, Studentreasures is working with 8,000 schools across the country.

"The last four to five years, we've grown by 25 percent each year," she said.

She said her company's product is very popular among teachers because they can utilize it as a teaching tool in various ways.

"I have some parents buying it for gifts for their (children's) grandparents," Derickson said.

This is Derickson's first time doing this project. In addition, she does not know of other teachers publishing their students' work. The idea of publishing their own book has motivated her kids so much, Derickson plans to continue making books in future years.

"The kids have absolutely loved it," she said.

The title of this year's book is "Me and My Family."

"I'm writing about me and my dad playing Frisbee a lot whenever he gets home," said 6-year-old Griffin Adair. "Then I get to read my whole entire book. It's a chapter book, and I don't even know how to read chapters, but I'm learning."

Griffin said he is writing about his dad because of how his father, who works construction, makes him laugh.

On the other hand, 7-year-old Charlotte Ryan travels with her family often. Therefore, her story relates to their adventures together.

"We do lots of things. We go somewhere far away," Charlotte said. "I'm drawing my car going to Greer."

Both students are very excited to see their finished product. Charlotte is so protective of her work, she will "keep it in a safe place" after she brings the book home.

Derickson cannot contain her excitement either. Her class has been working on the book for the past month. From the beginning, she thought the idea of publishing her students' work was extraordinary.

"My first initial reaction is this would be so cool. It would be a motivator for reading and writing," she said. "It's totally a tool that can be used."

Contact the reporter at slopatin@prescottaz.com

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