For many years now, each July, I have designed and taught a course called Book Publisher through Summer at St. George’s. Eager young writers and illustrators sign up for a two week adventure into writing, illustrating, editing, designing and publishing their own books. It has become so popular that it attracts young people from all over the world, some of whom have been returning for more than five consecutive years
The rubber hits the road (or rather the pencil hits the paper) pretty fast here, as you can imagine, with only two weeks and three hours a day to plot out adventures for their characters or to research non-fiction topics that fascinate them. I am always amazed that we begin with a blank sheet of paper and end up with everything from books about forms of energy and cute puppies who stop bullying at puppy school to extensive novels about creepy spirits that inhabit abandoned factories and take over human bodies (shiver…)
It sure is a marathon though! A two week version of the 48 hour novel contest for kids! Some arrive full of ideas and some arrive with none. All leave with a sense of confidence, pride and a hardcover book that they created themselves.
This year, in July, we published 34 books! That’s more than a book for each day of the month! Our young authors had plenty of extra support. Ciara, Boyden, Mathias, Raj, Miya, Jamie and Reina, recreation leaders and volunteers were on hand to encourage, engage and inspire students. Much of the success of our marathon was due to them.
The diversity of stories and the mastery students had of language was amazing! There were stories about pixie like creatures who lived in trees and their adventures as they sought to save their homes from humans cutting them down. There were rags to riches stories about how a few magic fireworks can change your destiny. There were pig detectives and ghoulish mysteries. We even coined a new genre…traumance…the thing that happens when romance and trauma meet!
Below are some student designed illustrations and covers. To of my July Book Publishers I say, “Right on and write on!” I have no doubt that we’ll see some of these names on major literary awards some day soon.