Student authors

Carpenters Middle students share their books with kindergarten kids

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By Sherri Gardner Howell
Publisher, Blount Today

When all the thinking, writing and drawing was done, it wasn’t any of those three that caused the students in Elizabeth Brown’s 8th-grade language arts class concern over a recent assignment.

It was the responsibility that came with it.

"You couldn’t have anything wrong," said Megan Queen, who is part of Brown’s class at Carpenters Middle School.
What was this assignment that left no room for error? State math test? Matching dates with historical events? Proving a
scientific axiom?

It was writing a children’s book.

"When I thought about it," Megan said, "I thought, ‘I don’t want to teach them something that isn’t right.’ "

When Beth Brown decided to take the assignment to write a children’s book a step beyond the "writing," she opened a new set of challenges for her students. Brown arranged for the 8th graders to visit Carpenters Elementary School to read to some of the kindergarten classes. The responsibility wasn’t lost on her students.

"You don’t want to teach little kids bad stuff," said Jacob Buchanan.

"You went back to your kid side," said Britney Fields. "You found your inner kid."

The class teamed to write and illustrate their books, for which Brown provided ten guidelines, including pictures on every page that includes text, a dedication page, an About the Author page and a story that filled at least 20 illustrated pages.

When the books were finished, it was time to take the "field trip" across the street to Carpenters Elementary.

"It was one way to reach out to our sister school," said Brown. "We want to do more outreach programs with the elementary school. It’s good for us, and good for them."

The success of the venture was in the response, both from Brown’s class and the kindergarten students.

"We didn’t have enough," said Brown. "We just kept getting invited in and pulled in to room after room to read."

Brittany Clark agreed that it was a success. "They were all so happy. You felt like you really did something good."

One of the kindergarten students had a suggestion, Brown said. "He said, ‘We should write our own books and come over and read to you.’ "

The class chose one of the books to share with Blount Today readers. "Baby Hippo’s Lost Watch" was written and illustrated by Ashley Davis and Courtney Cato.

Baby Hippo’s Lost Watch

By Ashley Davis and Courtney Cato

One day as Baby Hippo was swimming through the swamp, he realized he had lost his watch. He paused for a second and looked around. Quickly diving underwater, he saw his friend Goldfish.

"Goldfish," he asked, "have you seen my watch?"

Goldfish said, "No, I haven’t seen a watch down here."

Baby Hippo frowned as he swam to shore to ask Little Bird if he had seen his watch.

When Baby Hippo asked, Little Bird replied, "I don’t wear your watch, so I don’t know where it is."

Baby Hippo then decides to go home because he is hungry. When he walks in the door, Mother Hippo sees that Baby Hippo is sad, so she asks, "Baby Hippo, what is the matter?"

"I lost my watch," replied Baby Hippo. He stared sadly at the floor.

Mother Hippo then replied, "Oh, I’m sorry Baby Hippo, have a cookie. It might make you feel better."

Baby Hippo gladly took the cookie and went off to find his watch, after thanking his mom.

As he walked around the edge of the swamp, he spotted Mr. Alligator.

Mr. Alligator, have you seen my watch?" Baby Hippo asked. He hoped that the alligator may have found it.

"Why, yes. I have seen your watch. I have it right here." Mr. Alligator took a golden watch out of his pocket.

"Oh, thank you, Mr. Alligator! You found my watch!" Baby Hippo said happily.

"You know, this is a very niche watch," said the alligator slyly, "and I am a very hungry alligator. How about you give me that delicious looking cookie, and I will give you back your watch."

"Sure, you can have the cookie. I just want my watch," Baby Hippo said.

They traded with smiles on their faces, and Baby Hippo jumped for joy as Mr. Alligator enjoyed his cookie.

Baby Hippo learned that if you are nice to others then they will be nice to you.

The end.

© 2006 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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