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Davis Journal

Third graders use their imagination to create published books

May 12, 2023 12:08PM ● By Becky Ginos

(Left to right) Miguel Prado, Keianna John and Jayden Valdez help their teacher, Mr. Wilkes, with the popcorn and soda they’re serving for guests at their red carpet event. The third graders have been working on their own books all year long. Photo by Becky Ginos

NORTH SALT LAKE—Third graders at Foxboro Elementary are talking about the world’s worst kids – not at their school – but through the characters they’ve created as a writing project. The children have been working on developing a book using their own characters who do things they shouldn’t. 

It was their teacher, Cole Wilkes, who came up with the idea based on the book “The World’s Worst Children” and he held a red carpet event last week to celebrate the books being published. 

“I loved the book myself,” said Wilkes. “At first some kids didn’t like to write but I hoped to engage them so that they’d find a love for writing and want to continue writing after.”

It’s easy to tell a story, he said. “But putting it on paper is more of a challenge. I tell the kids to write like you talk.”

Wilkes has the class watch old cartoons and the opening scenes. “We talk about it like ‘are you scared after dark?’” he said. “We break it down. ‘What do you think is creepy? What sounds were there?’ I have them picture what they're writing.” 

The class has been working on the project all year long, he said. “I have them build their character and work on a hook and then make a video.”

They describe the story in the video, said Wilkes. “Their pretend character has to write an apology in third person with dialogue a third grader would write. I want them to know the story and fall in love with their own character. We copy the character (in the book) but then they’re making it their own.”

The red carpet event included popcorn and soda for guests who came to watch the kids’ videos describing their book. “It’s the culmination of what they’ve been working on,” he said. “They get to run their own show and take photos like they’re the paparazzi. It makes them feel important and really celebrates their accomplishments. They’re published writers in their own right.”

“My book is ‘Bad Frankie,’” said third grader Diane Jorbon. “He is bad to his neighbor and breaks school and the country’s rules. He’s a bad kid. His parents tell him not to jump in the lake. It (sign) says no jumping or swimming so he went into the lake and got in trouble.”

“‘Scary Mary’ is about a girl who likes to scare people,” said Paisley Soto. “She likes to prank them. She goes into the bathroom and scares them.”

Everleigh Phadund’s book is “Tantrum Tammy.” “She likes to throw tantrums so nobody really likes her because she throws tantrums,” said Phadund. “This has been really fun. I worked really hard and I would like to write books when I grow up.”

The books are sent off to be published by a company that does student books, said Wilkes. “The kids do the book and edit each other’s story. They design the cover and draw a picture of their character then we ship it off.”

Wilkes invites the lower grades to the red carpet event too. “They get the idea that it’s fun and second graders see that they’ll get to do that,” he said. “We hope it gets them excited to come to third grade.”

At first the kids didn't really like deadlines, said Wilkes. “But by the end they’re so happy. To see them fall in love with the character they wrote is the greatest thing.”.λ