For Every Child a Special Story

High Schoolers’ Tales Tailored for First-graders

Junior Rylee Kovalick reads a book she wrote and illustrated to first-grader Kyle Visser

What if you told someone your favorite food and color; what kinds of stories you like to read; and whether you consider yourself brave, shy or funny; and based on your answers, a book was written just for you?

Susan Pomper’s first-graders at Bushnell Elementary don’t have to wonder.

Madison Taylor likes ice cream and chocolate, and her favorite color is maroon. Olivia Sage is fond of farm animals. And Roman Marsh is all about superheroes.

They and their classmates were matched with high school students in Lindsay Bredin’s introduction to creative writing class who had at least a few similar interests. Every day for about two weeks, they pored over the questionnaires and came up with books of from 12 to 24 pages that they wrote and illustrated that were inspired by their pint-sized subjects.

What’s more, before they visited Bushnell to deliver and read their original works, the high schoolers and first-graders had never met.

This was the fifth year Bredin did the book project with her students. She limited it to advanced writing classes the first four years, but this year opened it to those who were new to creative writing.

“Their talent and creativity was amazing,” she said. “They totally rocked this project.”

Before writing, Bredin’s class visited the Kent District Library’s Englehardt Branch, where Manager Heather Wood-Gramza read children’s books, modeling how to read them aloud using emotion, inflection andtone.

Bredin said copies of the books will be on display at the Englehardt Branch and for loan at the Little Free Library on Riverside Drive.

“The books are so wonderfully written and illustrated,” Pomper said. “I can tell they will treasure these always. We were so lucky to be on the receiving end of this project.”

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Kent District Library Englehardt Branch

Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio

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