On an early year trip to Guatemala to promote literacy, Mary Anne Johnston was given a student-created book from a classroom, complete with hand-drawn pictures and children's handwriting. The authors all signed their names on a dotted line on the last page.
The remarkable thing about the book is that the children who made it all live and go to school in a dump. They don't have many resources, so Johnston was honored they wanted to give her something.
So when Johnston, the literacy chair for the Rotary Club of Summit County, got back from the 11-day trip to the country with the Guatemala Literacy Project - a partnership between North American and Guatemala Rotary clubs and the nonprofit Cooperative for Education - she mentioned in a Summit Daily News article chronicling her experience she would love to have local students create books for the Guatemala children. And she got a few responses.
Amy Hardwick, a Spanish teacher at Frisco Elementary, had her students in kindergarten, first, second and third grades create books at the end of this past school year.
"The book project for the Guatemala Literacy Project has been a fantastic cultural extension for my Spanish classes," Hardwick said. "Many of my younger students especially wonder why they need to learn another language. I think it helps them to have a connection to other countries where Spanish is spoken."
Also, the project tied in with the school's International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme.
"We were able to able to engage the students in a service project which allowed them to see that there are many students who are not as fortunate as we are at Frisco Elementary in terms of the resources available to us," Hardwick said.
Hardwick estimates there was about 100 books created by the children. Each grade had a different topic for their books - kindergarten wrote about their families and where they live; first about learning colors and numbers in Spanish; second used sequencing and ordinal numbers to write about a typical day; and third grade wrote fictional stories about a mouse that spoke two languages.
Johnston has a few more classrooms signed up for the project this fall, and will be bringing books with her to Guatemala when she returns next February. With the amount being made, she expects to be able to give every student their own book - instead of just one per classroom.
"I think they'll love it," she said.