Bijou celebrates student authors |

Bijou celebrates student authors

Jill Darby

Teachers Vivian Rider and Susan McAllister are giving parents a reason to visit the first-grade classrooms at Bijou Community School.

The last Friday afternoon of each month is celebrated with an “Author’s Tea.” Parents are invited to Rider and McAllister’s rooms for tea and cookies and to share in their children’s writing accomplishments.

Two days a week, students work on stories that will be edited and published into small, homemade books. During the tea, students read their books to their visitors.

Jesse Jacobs, 6, wrote four books titled, “My Friends,” “Pokemon,” “Halloween” and “My Family.”

“It was kind of hard to think of the ideas but after I wrote the books, I illustrated them,” Jacobs said. “(The Author’s Tea) is fun because I like reading with dad. It makes me happy when dad comes to my school because I like him very much.”

Rider explained how the books are completed in a written description of the process.

“Each child chooses a topic, decides who they would like to dedicate their story to, and begins writing using inventive spelling and words from around the room,” Rider said. “When the student is finished with their story they read it back to me. I fill in words that are missing or perhaps decipher, with their help, words that aren’t yet recognizable. The book is then published into book language with conventional spelling. During the next writing session, the child illustrates the story they have written.”

Seven-year-old Eric Bongcaron wrote a book about his family, dedicated to his brother.

“I liked writing this book because my family is my best family,” he said. “I read it because that helps me with my reading. When I practice more I’ll be big and smart.”

The Author’s Tea allows parents to participate in their child’s education, McAllister said.

“We like the parents to be partners in their child’s education,” McAllister said. “We believe opening the doors and inviting the parents in lets them know we want them to be a part of this, to celebrate their child’s accomplishments.”

Paulina Mora, 6, invited her mother, Concepcion, to the event.

“This is a good idea because we know what’s going on and what they’re learning,” Concepcion Mora said. “And I think the kids are very happy when they see us here.”

First-grader Trevor Earley’s mom, Monique, shared similar sentiments.

“I’m really close as far as Trevor’s schoolwork,” Monique Earley said. “This is great because I get to meet his classmates, teacher and the other parents.”

Students are learning a lot from the Author’s Tea program, according to Rider.

“They practice writing strategies and skills and learn to choose words carefully to articulate their ideas,” she said in a written overview of the program. “They see firsthand the power of writing to entertain, inform and persuade. Many children have developed from early stages of writing to conventional writing. The children develop confidence to write using their own imagination. They are becoming independent writers.”

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