Edgerton fifth-graders write self-published book, 'The Day I Became an Animal!'

Published on: 5/20/2014

Hales Corners — One fifth-grade class at Edgerton Elementary fantasized what life would be like as a dolphin, duck, falcon, dog or other animal. Their wild imaginations produced a self-published story book they titled, 'The Day I Became an Animal!'

The book is a collection of creative essays that every one of Chelsea Linder's fifth-graders wrote. They also submitted original illustrations to accompany their story.

Linder used Studentreasures, a free student publishing program through Scholastic, to create hard copies of the book so students could purchase one and take it home.

'It was really neat for me to see the finished copy of the book,' Linder said in a news release. 'Students have grown so much as writers throughout the school year. In writing, we always talk about 'publishing' our final drafts. Now that students have actually published their writing, it allowed them to see the writing process full circle. Students were so proud of their work and eager to share it with others.'

Leading up to the unit, students read 'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,' by C.S. Lewis. The fantasy unit jogged students' creativity to embody an animal for a day in their stories.

Owen Viar, 11, chronicled his transformation into a falcon: 'When I tried to walk over to the mirror, instead of walking, I flew to the mirror, and I got a little nervous.'

Students had about three weeks to write and rewrite three total drafts, draw two illustrations and type the story.

'I get to create my own ideas, and there's no limit,' Viar said. 'The story is fun for me to have that experience and buy the book as my own.'

In his story, Ethan Binger, 11, became a dog named Donald.

'All aspects of it were fun; it's fun to publish a book by yourself and with others,' Binger said.

'You not only see your own story but what other people came up with,' Viar added.

Students also learned how to collaborate. Binger said there were disagreements about what the book should be titled, either 'How I Became an Animal!' or 'I Woke Up Like This.'

Seeing the finished product, Binger regretted not having auto-correct while typing in Studentreasures to correct typos.

'We look back at our mistakes in the book and laughed,' he said.

Linder's class read 'The Day I Became an Animal!' to Edgerton second-graders. 'Now they can come up with their own ideas,' said Sidney LaFleur, 11, of reading her story to younger students.

Next year, Linder hopes to have students write one fantasy essay at the beginning of the year and then revise it at the end of the year to measure their progress.

To purchase a copy:

Visit studentreasures.com/ordercopies and enter the PIN number 5051005 to order 'The Day I Became an Animal!'