CONCORD -- Vanessa Chena is proud to be recognized as an author at Silverwood Elementary, where her recently completed book on pigs' tails is on display along with hundreds of others in the school library.

"I really like pigs and I've always wondered why they have curly tails," said the 10-year-old fourth-grader. "So, I decided to write a story about that."

Students throughout the school have spent months writing and illustrating books such as Vanessa's, which is titled "Why Pigs Have Curly Tails." They will unveil their books for their families Thursday during a Young Authors' reception at the school.

Teachers and parents on campus decided to host their own event in place of a districtwide Young Authors Gala that was discontinued. That event included a guest appearance from a published author, along with prizes for student authors, usually presented in a crowded high school gym.

Second grade teacher Eva Stoltz, who will retire this year, said her son, now 33, won first prize for his book at the gala decades ago when he was in fourth grade.

"We still have that book, so I know it's the kind of thing that parents treasure," she said. "And students love to reread them and hopefully to read them to their own children someday."

Stoltz said her students started working on their books in January, applying curriculum standards they were learning about literature and writing to their own work.

"We studied grammar rules and learned the elements of a story, such as beginning, middle and end," Stoltz said.


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"Our stories contain a problem and a resolution."

Students brainstormed fiction ideas and worked with parent volunteer Robert Lang to refine their stories. A grandparent donated $60 that Stoltz used to purchase bound, blank books.

Lang typed up the stories for students and glued a few sentences onto each page. He drew outlines of frames on the pages, which students carefully filled in with colorful drawings.

"The students were so excited to be able to create the books," Stolz said. "They worked with extra care and pride."

At the end of the books, students wrote a little about themselves for an "About the Author" section, accompanied by their school photos. In other classes, such as Vanessa's, students hand wrote their stories and created their own binding.

Stoltz said the experience is valuable to students because they learn what it's like to publish a book. Then, they learn what it's like to take their book on tour, when they read their books to other classes as "visiting authors" during Young Authors Week, through Friday.

Fifth-grader Kaci Trujillo, 11, said she's hoping to read her book, "An Odd Day," to second or third-graders.

"My story's really funny," she said. "I think little kids would really like it."

Her teacher Jessica Beerbaum said she helped coordinate the Young Authors' event with the campus Parent Teacher Association to keep the tradition alive at Silverwood.

"I like it better than the district's," she said, "because it's more personal."

Vanessa said she's looking forward to creating another book next year.

"I like to write," she said. "I like to use my imagination."

IF YOU GO
  • what: Young Authors
    reception
  • when: 7 p.m. today, after
    a PTA meeting
  • where: Silverwood
    Elementary School library,
    1649 Claycord Ave., Concord