In a brightly-lit third grade classroom, a young boy walks over to the room’slibrary in search of a book to lift his spirits. He had spent all of recess swinging on the swing set while some of his friends were chasing each other around the monkey bars. Catching a glimpse of something that seems promising, he takes hold of a thin picture book and begins reading. After devouring the book in minutes, he glances over where the author’s name should be to see that the book wasn’t written by one single author, but rather by a whole plethora of high school students. More specifically, a handful of students in the National English Honor Society at Johnson HS.
For the past month, some upperclassman in NEHS have been creating a unique children’s book that is both age-appropriate but also discusses the ups and downs of growing up, and has slightly more complex undertones to it.
“What we are looking for is a book appropriate for a third grade classroom, an elementary student, that deals with the psychological nature of personality
development,” NEHS sponsor and AP English teacher Gabriel Oviedo said.
The structure of the children’s book will also demonstrate the various skills of the authors including their grammatical editing abilities and, for some, their artistic talents as well.
“The brainstorming and drafting of a narrative, that is to say with a plot, a conflict, and protagonist; it’s taking all of their [NEHS members] complex knowledge about literature and applying it. So instead of studying authors, they are becoming authors and have to convey meaning in an indirect, abstract way,” Oviedo said.
In addition to coming up with the content of the novel, and publishing it through Amazon, there is another element to this project.
“There’s two prongs to this project; number one, it’s to get the members of NEHS, the students here at Johnson, involved in the process of creativity and creation,” Oviedo said. “The other prong of it is that they would like to take this book and create a lesson plan around it, and then go into the elementary schools, teach the book, and have kids complete activities in regard to it so they simultaneously in this project are author and teacher.”
And although the children’s book will not be published until next year, the children’s book will not only teach younger students that being different is normal for kids their age, but that English is an outstanding subject.
“Our club is based around the idea on promoting the English language and really getting young people involved so that way, when they [elementary students] get to high school, they love the class and love English. So that’s why we are primarily taking this front so we can promote our club’s agenda in order to foster the English language.” senior and NEHS president Lindsay Wilson said.
In order to accurately foster a love for English and encourage children to embrace their individuality, the storyboard committee of NEHS is faced with the difficult task of keeping the book light-hearted but also significant for their development. “Recognizing what they feel, a lot of times children’s books tend to go more toward the positive aspects, accentuating the good things, and the reality is that these kids in elementary school are torn between two things, being a child and not having any responsibility and growing up and having a lot of responsibility,” Oviedo said.
By publishing a book with a relatable character and plot line for children to identify with, NEHS members strive to be able to have a lasting impact on these students for years to come.
“Sometimes its hard to navigate what [responsibility]role they should take,” Oviedo said. “Hopefully it will resonate to those kids in that way, and the lesson plans we create are to that end, and if not immediately, then it will resonate with them [students] soon.”