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High-schoolers create books for & inspired by second-graders

Seeing themselves — literally — in books they read

Northview — Literacy experts say students tend to be more drawn to books when they see themselves in what they read.

Meagan Postma’s second-graders at North Oakview Elementary now have that in the literal sense, thanks to students in Matt Howe’s Northview High School Creative Writing class — the goal of which is to craft a children’s book. 

Howe’s students practiced their skills by interviewing their younger, fellow Wildcats about themselves, their families, their friends and lives as second-graders, then wrote and illustrated books just for them. The older students also penned letters to their young book subjects about what the experience meant to them.

Gianna Boggiano was excited to see Disney World and roller coasters in her book.

Terrance France’s book was filled with suspense, just like other books he likes.

Lucy Kose’s book — a colorful, artistic work of its own by high-schooler Bug Stabler — even included her friends and her teacher. 

Postma said seeing her second-graders be interviewed by high-schoolers, then read their books aloud to their creators, showed her how impactful the experience was. 

Narrative and fiction writing was to be the next topic for her students, and Postma thinks her students will draw from the experience when tackling that next academic challenge.

Howe said he noticed the experience went a long way to building overall confidence in his students, and how their enthusiasm for the project “was a big thing” in his class.

Ari Vannieuwenhoven was particularly enthusiastic, and could speak from both sides about the impact of the project. As a second-grader, Ari had a book made for her by a Northview High student. She has kept it, and brought it in to show Howe and her classmates.

“I forgot all about it” until she learned what she would be doing in Creative Writing class, Ari explained as she showed a few pages to a visitor. “There was no way I was going to get rid of it; it was made for me. It felt very special.”

Read more from Northview: 
Student journalists weigh in on book challenges
Kindness is the answer

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering Northview. She 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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