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Ironton fifth-graders write, publish own books

The class of 2016 can add a new item to their growing list of accomplishments — book publishers.

As part of a program designed to address many of the state indicators including improving vocabulary and writing skills, fifth-grade students at Kingsbury Elementary School were asked to write autobiographical and acrostic poems about themselves focusing on recognizing character traits along with drawing a self-portrait on the corresponding page.

The result? A six-volume, hardback-bound series of titles that showcases the collected works of each student. Those titles debuted at a pair of student readings and book signings Friday in the school’s cafetorium.

Complete with a student-drawn cover and glossy finish, each volume got its first public reading in front of family and school administrators in two separate sessions. Afterward, each student hosted a book signing of his or her individual copy complete with cookies and punch.

“Though developing the book was an important educational process, we feel this event is just as beneficial to the students,” fifth-grade teacher Julie Bocook said. “By allowing the students to share their original work in this public format, we believe we are helping to build their self-confidence and self-esteem.”

The titles of the books are: “You Gotta Be You,” “Picture Me a Poet,” “Totally Tigers,” “Portraits in Poetry,” “Ms. Johnson’s Favorite Fifth Graders” and “Bocook’s Beautiful Book.” Each is available to purchase for $22.90 per title.

Bocook said 2009 was the first year Ironton fifth-graders published their own works, but based on its success now envisions it as an annual event.

“Being a ‘published’ author has given the students a sense of pride and accomplishment,” Bocook added. “They will now be able to go into their school library and check out a book they had a hand in writing themselves.”

New “author” Karsyn Bates said she didn’t have to think long as to what she was going to focus her writing on.

“I decided to write about my family and friends. They are the people I care about the most,” explained the 11-year-old. “I just thought it was great and awesome to be able to do this.”

When asked what was he hardest part of the project Bates said the self-portrait.

“I redid it three different times, though the first two were just rough drafts,” Bates said with a smile.

The books were published and printed by Nationwide Learning in Topeka, Kan. Bocook said while students and their families paid for this year’s publishing, they hope to find funding for 2010 with fundraising or sponsorships.