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As intrinsically fulfilling as writing is, authors don’t just write for their own enjoyment. They write for an audience; they write to be read. Knowing that their work will mean something not just to themselves but to others fuels their creative fire and pushes them to write more, and write better.
It’s the same for your students. There’s a world of difference between writing an assignment that will be read only by their teacher and creating something that will be shared with the entire class and beyond. Publishing your students’ writing doesn’t just get them pumped up to write, either—it also has many other benefits like or such as:
It’s no secret that reading and writing skills walk hand-in-hand. In order to write anything intelligible, your students need to be able to read well enough to know what they’re writing. But the reverse is also true; practicing writing also helps build better reading skills by allowing students to more thoroughly explore the meanings behind the words and phrases they’ve read and learned.
As Regie Routman, author of Writing Essentials: Raising Expectations and Results While Simplifying Teaching, writes, “Research has clearly shown that reading and writing are interactive, closely connected processes that support each other and that participation in strong writing programs clearly benefits both reading and writing development.”
While regular reading and writing assignments certainly make for good practice, writing for publication is even better practice. Studies have shown that teaching writing as a process is more effective than teaching it as a product, resulting in higher student achievement. But more than that, publishing your students’ writing gives them a peek behind the curtain to see how books are created and allows them to feel like insiders in the publishing world. This, in turn, lends more meaning to their reading because they are more aware of the work that went into publishing the book in their hands.
“Having my students go through the writing process and having the end product was an exciting experience! They are proud authors and illustrators and they read their book everyday. It was a wonderful hands on experience for them to see what authors and illustrators do to create their books.”
-Kate R., LIFE Prep School, Saint Paul, MN
Teaching your students effective editing and revising strategies is an interesting challenge. Convincing them that it’s fun is hard; convincing them it’s necessary can be even harder when they’re only writing for a letter grade. Teaching editing as part of the publishing process gives them a clearer picture of the power of revising—they get to see firsthand how much difference there is between a rough first draft and a final product that’s been polished to perfection.
Moreover, because they know others will be reading their work—either during peer editing sessions or when their published classbook finally arrives—they are more likely to be actively engaged in the editing process, as they’ll be looking forward to impressing their fellow writers with their best work. They’ll not only try harder, they’ll remember the lesson better and be ready to put their newly refined revision skills to good use in the future!
“Giving students the opportunity to become published authors is a unique experience. Not only does it take them through the entire writing process, but gives them a lasting heirloom to be proud of and share with others.”
-Nancy B., Jellick Elementary School, Rowland Heights, CA
Creating and publishing a classbook together is a special kind of writing project because it involves teamwork. While writing can often be a lonely task under normal circumstances, classbook projects open the door to collaboration in nearly every step of the writing process, from brainstorming topics together to peer editing each other’s work to celebrating publication day as a class with a publishing party.
Along the way, your students get to inspire, and be inspired by, each other and grow as writers together. They learn how to work as a team toward a common objective while pursuing their individual goals, and how to communicate with one another more effectively while doing it. They learn the art of constructive criticism—both how to give and to receive it—and they learn how to write more clearly and speak in front of an audience, skills which will benefit them well into the future, regardless of whether they grow up to be authors, architects or astronauts.
“Having my class make the book together was such an awesome project. It is something they will have forever. It helped improve their writing skills as well as communication.”
-Karen W., Holy Family Consolidated School, Berwick, PA
Simply seeing their work in print is often reward enough for your students—but that doesn’t mean it’s the only rewarding thing about publishing their writing. Being able to hold their finished classbook in their hands and, better yet, hand it over to someone else to read and enjoy is a thrilling experience. It makes them feel recognized as authors and as capable people, not just kids—both by their peers and by teachers and parents.
Publishing a classbook can, however, also gain recognition for your class as a whole—and not just within the walls of your own school. Classbooks make impressive entries for a variety of contests which can win your classroom local, or even national, recognition as well as prizes. Publishing a classbook can also lead to earning extra funding through exciting grant opportunities.
“Creating a class book is a wonderful, meaningful experience for students, and something they will be proud of when seeing the final result.”
-Stephanie C., Westridge Elementary School, Kansas City, MO
Of course, the most rewarding thing about a classbook isn’t something that can be quantified in dollars or in prizes. It’s seeing your students put pen to paper with a vigor like you’ve never seen before. It’s sharing in their eager anticipation as you count down the days until your finished classbook arrives, and it’s watching their faces light up with joy and pride on the promised day when they hold the concrete proof of their accomplishment in their own two hands.
Knowing that their work will be in print and available to a broad audience of readers raises the stakes and motivates your students to do—and be—their very best. It’s a feeling that lasts long beyond publishing day, as your students will remember vividly how their efforts paid off and will be that much more likely to work just as hard (or harder!) on future endeavors.
Becoming published authors also builds your students’ confidence by signaling to them that they and their work are worth sharing and celebrating with others. It’s a reward for a job well done, but also an acknowledgement that they have made something new, incredible and worthwhile. They aren’t just members of the audience anymore—they’re creators, capable of doing anything they put their minds to.
“Creating class books with my students was so motivating for them, and I saw a definitive increase in writing achievement as a result! :)”
-Celeste N., Valley View Elementary School, Pleasanton CA
In the end, a classbook project isn’t just about the final product—it’s about the process, and the memories your students make along the way. Becoming published authors is a journey you and your elementary students won’t soon forget, nor would you want to. And luckily, you won’t have to. By working with a professional student publishing company, you can publish a beautiful profesionally published hardbound classbook that will commemorate your students’ achievement and help preserve the memories they’ve made together in paper and ink for years to come.
Your students won’t be the only ones who appreciate their book! Parents love nothing more than keepsakes of their children’s early years; even if they aren’t part of the publishing process directly, they will be thankful for the chance to enjoy and cherish their own copies of something their kids helped create. And you, too, will have something to treasure—your free, classroom copy will no doubt be sitting on your bookshelf long after the students who created it have graduated.
“I loved this idea of my class creating their own book. Not only was it getting their imagination going but it was also inspiring them to write another book and become authors. My parents in my class also had all positive comments regarding this assignment and almost all of them ordered a book for their child to keep as a memory and keepsake.”
-Kristen M., Shades Mountain Christian School, Birmingham, AL
Becoming published authors is an educational adventure unlike any other. Teaching the publishing process help your students become better writers and readers. It shows them firsthand the value of editing, and helps them to communicate better, both with fellow members of a team and their audience at large. Plus, publishing their work can lead to gaining recognition—both for your individual students and your class as a whole—and can inspire confidence and motivation in even the most uncertain students.
Ready for more good news? Publishing is also fun—and easy! You don’t have to be a professional bookbinder or high-end fiction editor to get the job done. With the help of a dedicated student publishing company, your classbook project can be as simple as ordering a free kit, helping your kids create their pages, and sending your completed work off to be published. The end result? A professionally published, hardcover classbook that will truly make your kids feel like “real authors” and a beautiful keepsake that will last for decades.