Each year, the Glendale Adventist Elementary (GAE) kindergarten classroom hums with the sounds of young authors and illustrators talking to their peers about writing or simply stretching out words so they can write the sounds they hear to compose a sentence. Markers, pencils, paper—all the necessary tools are scattered about as the students think, write, and sketch. “I have always held the belief that even young students can write to tell a story, entertain, communicate, and inform,” shared Rayan Abdul-Karim, GAE kindergarten teacher.
This year, Karim used mentor texts (examples of good writing) and created a unit of study to further the students’ abilities to be authors and, in particular, illustrators. She began a writer’s workshop by studying the illustrations of several books, learning how an illustrator creates pictures and explores elements that can complement the text. The students then read a mentor text and discussed questions about the meaning of the story. Finally, they went page by page, observing, comparing, and studying the illustrations and supporting sentences. Lastly, the students wrote silly stories and sketched pictures related to the story.
“My kindergarten students made progress through several stages of writing development,” Karim recalled. “They began to write with a sense of purpose while playing with words and pictures. I also allot more time for sharing their writings and illustrations; students share with a partner, with a small group, and with the class. When students talk with their peers about their illustrations and stories, they are inspired and motivated to continue their own journey through the writing process.”
“Teaching my kindergarten students how to be authors and illustrators can be both fun and challenging,” Karim continued. “One thing that makes it easier for the children to learn about authors and illustrators is if they get to meet and interact with them.” This year, the class met real author and illustrator Ellis Flores, pastor at Ebenezer Spanish church and Highland Park Spanish company. Flores read his first selfpublished book, The First Man on Earth: A Creation Story, with the students.
Flores shared the process of creating his book and noted that technology has made self-publishing easier. He stated that with basic drawing abilities and access to modern technology, anyone can write and illustrate a book using just a personal computer and online programs like Canva. The students asked questions about the time it took to write the book, the software used for illustration, and the steps to publish the book and make profits. The book was originally intended as a personal devotional for Flores’ two sons. It was later published on Amazon KDP and is currently available for free via Kindle Unlimited.
“I was surprised at all the questions they had,” Flores shared. “These little friends were not only thinking of the process but also asked me about marketing and getting the best return on investment. My hope and prayer is that they understand that they, too, can share their story, message, or idea with the world.”