Corbin Elementary students celebrate publishing of their own book

Feb. 8—CORBIN — On Monday morning, the library of Corbin Elementary School set the scene for an excited group of fourth graders in Mrs. Emily Lewallen's enrichment groups. With balloons and finger foods, the group of about 16 students celebrated the culmination of months of hard-work and perseverance in becoming published illustrators and authors.

Lewallen, who is in her first year as the elementary school's library media specialist, said back in October she received a flyer in the mail from Studentreasures Publishing Offering with the offer of having her students create and publish a book for free. On its website, Studentreasures Publishing Offering invites educators to promote kindness in their classrooms by building upon student's reading and writing skills in creating a treasured keepsake.

"Our publishing kit infuses your lessons with hands-on-fun and guides your students through the writing process," reads the website. "It can be as easy as putting an existing lesson onto the kit pages."

Lewallen said that when working with a group of 16, there are a lot of ideas being shared. As a result, she said she came up with the book's theme and title, "Where's Tom?". Lewallen said the book focuses on a Thanksgiving turkey, Tom, who on the morning of Thanksgiving, is hiding from the farmer amongst his barnyard friends.

"They each got a farm animal and they got to make up whatever Tom did with that animal during the day," explained Lewallen, also noting students were challenged with drawing a depiction of their portion of the story.

Lewallen said the group met every morning and worked on the book for months. She said students were taught about the writing process and how time consuming it can be.

"Like how you have to write and do it over, and over, and make corrections and change things. The pictures, you draw it, you practice and then you draw it again until you get it just right," she said. "At first they thought it was going to be really easy, just to write something down and draw a picture, but it wasn't. They had to really persevere and work on it."

"They were really, really excited," Lewallen later added about her students. "And then when we got to, I don't know, like the fourth draft, they're like, 'Oh gosh,'" she continued. "But then, when they got it finished and they were able to look at their pages all together, they thought it was really cool and they were really excited today to get their finished projects."

The group managed to get the final version of the book completed in December, Lewallen said. She then sent the work of her students to Studentreasures Publishing Offering, who she said turned the handwritten pages and drawings into a "real, true book," that students and their families were able to purchase as a keepsake.

"We have to give a shout out to Mr. [Andrew] Johnson, our art teacher, he did our cover and our title page," Lewallen said, as her students gathered around the library, looking over their work and signing each-other's copy of the book.

"We made a big deal about it during morning meetings, so the school knows what a great accomplishment they've achieved," she added.

Lewallen called the celebration in the library Monday morning a "publisher's party," joking that big-named authors and publishers host similar parties when publishing their works.

"I wanted to give them that experience just on a smaller scale this morning," she said. "The goal is just to make them feel important and to celebrate the fruits of their labor, because they worked really, really hard for two months," she added, saying she would definitely be interested in doing the projects again in future years.

Those interested in ordering their own copy of "Where's Tom?" can do so by visiting Studentreasures.com/OrderCopies and using the PIN number 8116801.