Aurelia’s youngest authors now in print

Friday, December 21, 2018
Mrs. Langschwager’s 2nd grade class in Aurelia wrote their own take on “The 12 Days of Christmas.” / Photos by Elijah Decious

Kristi Langschwager’s second grade class in Aurelia has been published, and they’re waiting for the paparazzi to ask for their autographs.

“They’re feeling pretty famous,” Langschwager said, after the class showed their enthusiasm for the new book.

The project for her 12 students to write their very own take on the “12 Days of Christmas” started in October, with a deadline at the end of November.

The cover of the book and the book’s name was chosen by popular vote among all the drawing ideas from students.

“We were supposed to get [the prints] back in February,” she said, but it looks like Christmas came early for these young authors. Copies are now available for parents starting at $19.95 for paperbacks.

Thank goodness, too—the authors reportedly did not get an advance before their deadline.

The Studentreasures publishing hit is expected be the hot gift for parents, grandparents and relatives of the dozen kids in this class.

Animals are a popular theme with this class.

Students produced the copy themselves, learning about the author’s process along the way that produces the kinds of books they love reading every day. Starting with a sloppy copy and refining to a master copy, Langschwager said she kept edits to a minimum, preserving the childhood innocence that sparkles in the hand-written, phonetically spelled pages.

“We knew the basic song, but they did it however they wanted,” the teacher said. “They did it all on their own.”

“I love how you get to use your imagination,” said 7-year-old Aliah. A couple writers stand out with chapters a couple pages long.

Parents beware: puppies and kittens are high on this student’s wish list, as reflected in the sixth day of Christmas

Drawings for each of the days of Christmas frames a snapshot of a precious moment in childhood development, showing unique strokes of their markers that can’t be replicated by adults.

Their teacher reported they liked drawing the most. “Anymore, we don’t get to get the crayons and markers out much. So when they got to do that, it was something they really liked.”

The front cover was a democratically selected piece out of the student’s pool. The name was chosen the same way.

“It was truly just their imagination and creativity that got to shine,” Langschwager said.

Through this, they learned how to build stamina in writing skills, how to embellish details with creative license and that making mistakes (as is expected in an author’s process) is an OK learning experience.

Getting kids excited about reading early on is an important key to creating lifelong readers and learners, she said. The writing process helps instill that excitement, giving them a stake in what goes into the finished product for a reader.

Langschwager emphasizes at least 20 minutes of reading every night to parents at meet and greets, but writing is another category that requires its own attention.

“The feel like the writing has slipped away a lot in schools because there’s just so much push on math and reading,” she said. “We’re just trying to get that back into our day.”

With just 15 minutes in her daily schedule dedicated to forming an important life skill in some of our most impressionable students, Langschwager has to get through a narrative, informational and opinion writing piece.

“It is tough,” to get through so much with so little time, she says.

Thanks to their work, this year a few families can avoid the time-tested Christmas tradition of struggling to figure out what to get for those relatives they only see once in a blue moon.