Arts & Entertainment

West Orange Third Graders Write and Illustrate Their Own Books

A student reads her book. Credits: Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE, NJ – Students in Paul Stefanelli’s third grade class at Redwood Elementary School had an opportunity to write and design their own books, recently presenting their work to family and friends at a Writing Celebration.

“After several weeks of reviewing fiction pieces and continuing to implement the writing process effectively, I challenged my class to write their own fiction books,” said Stefanell, who also described the efforts of his students as they embraced the writing process.

Several weeks were spent researching, creating storyboards, prewriting, writing a rough draft, revising, editing and publishing. Blank, bound books were purchased for each student to use in designing their masterpiece.

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“I allowed the children to pursue his or her own creative abilities,” said Stefanelli. “And the students critiqued one another's books, which helped to know what works when someone else is reading their book and what doesn't.”

Students made the decision to target their books for a selected audience: Easy, Just Right or Difficult. In addition to the writing process, students also illustrated their books.

Professional author and Redwood parent Ana Tourian visited the class to provide her expertise and knowledge on how to write fiction books.

“She went over every step from beginning to end on how to successfully implement what was being taught in class,” said Stefanelli.

As students read their stories into a microphone, classmates commented on their Chrome Books. In addition to parents and family members, Interim Principal Heather Carr and ELA Supervisor K-5 Denise DeMartinis stopped by to see and hear the results of the students’ hard work.

“They had a tremendous experience and also developed public speaking skills as well at the writing celebration,” said Stefanelli. “The students are currently reading their books to K-2 grades at Redwood and they feel such a sense of success and accomplishment after this particular project. In my opinion, they are up there with the Judy Blumes, Dan Gutmans, and Mike Lupicas of the world.”

See all the photos from the Writing Celebration here.

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