Recently I had the opportunity to attend Taylor Elementary's "Meet the Author" gala celebration. Spearheaded by Donna Lee Cooper, one of the school's long time teachers, the day was to celebrate the arrival of the students self published books. Through hard work and creativity the students, with guidance from their teachers, and with the assistance of a publishing partner, wrote and illustrated their own hard copy books, copies of which the student authors then signed and later had on display at the community library. From preschool right through to grade 6, the students experienced the satisfaction of producing a finished, published product.
Creating and publishing original pieces of writing is a true 21st century learning skill. Producing and polishing unique content is hard enough, but when students do so for an audience and to produce a tangible product visible for display and available for others to see, learning becomes more real and student investment in their product increases.
Micheal Niehoff of USC identifies many ways that students can authentically publish work for a wider audience. In addition to traditional print media, today's student has online and digital capabilities. They can blog, upload to Youtube and other social media platforms. They have easy access to a wider audience than ever before. With such access comes both a responsibility to publish responsibly and the potential to reach and interact with their audience in a way not available to writers of earlier generations.
Publishing allows students to find and express their own voice and has been linked to life long literacy skills. By starting early and continuing to develop their publishing skills through to grade 12 graduation, students gain confidence in expressing their own ideas, and a better sense of personal competence and confidence in communicating clearly with others.