Creative Students Produce Children’s Books

Battle students read to their client.

Battle students read to their “client.”

Devin Smith, Editor in Chief

There is no better way to influence and aid a community, other than impacting the youth. Battle’s Creative Writing classes collaborated with Photography 1 and 2 to impact the lives of our resident preschoolers through art and literature. No, there were no readings of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, or contemporary critiques of Gustav Klimpt’s work; instead, high school students designed, wrote, and produced tangible tales pertaining to the realm of preschool.

The students went through the entire writing process and the artistic process to produce work in a business-like fashion. Mrs. Spriggs, the Photography 1 and 2 teacher stated that Mr. Gammon, the Creative Writing teacher, and her “wanted an authentic experience, so we discussed having “clients’ that the students would be responsible to, instead of having some arbitrary assignment.” Additionally, Gammon remarked that “just because the assignment was a children book, doesn’t make it less complicated, and in some ways, it’s even more complicated to create a children’s book of high caliber.”

Not many, if any restrictions, were placed on the books. However, the books were “need based, or want based, from what the kids expressed interest in, such as their favorite food, TV show, or favorite person,” states Ms. Veatch, Mr. Gammon’s student teacher from Westminster College. Many of the preschool students expressed interests in chicken nuggets and assorted superheroes, which Battle students creatively morphed into full length books, that were easily accessible to four and five year old children. The students progressed through individual work times, and collaboration times where ideas were discussed and developed. Instead of having the writer develop a story based off of the “client’s” area of interest, and the artist having to respond to their work, the critical decisions of plot change and characterization were made as a group to ensure that both sides of the group were comfortable in the work they were producing.

After the drafting and writing stages were over, the massive undertaking of formatting and crafting a book was underhand. The students often worked in Sprigg’s art classroom on laptops. Due to the lack of time available for technological training, students used Microsoft Publisher to produce their books. Some students found the program difficult, and resorted to other means of formatting their projects.

At the end of the entire process, the groups were able to present their products to the students. Held in the outdoor amphitheater in the morning, groups scattered and discussion filled the air as the stories were read aloud to the preschool students. A lot of the clients were amazed in the presentation of their stories, and some children even held their mouth open in amazement. Despite the ever present enticement of playing with grass, the kids seemed focused on the simple joy in their “gift.” Amelia Bond, a senior in Photography 2 stated that she was “really pleased with the turn out of the books, and the appreciation of the kids. It was super rewarding to see them smile.”

Gammon and Spriggs have broken the educational mold with this project. By encouraging collaboration and creativity in today’s age of 140 characters or less, their students have made a difference in the lives of Battle preschoolers, many of which will graduate from Battle High School in the future.