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'Publish or perish' -- the latest thing for young authors

In an earlier article, I wrote about a teacher who encouraged her elementary school students to write books. Aware of the imaginative powers of students in the early grades of elementary school, this teacher (also imaginative) encouraged her students not only to write but to "publish" their books.

With the assistance of volunteer editors and typists, many books were both written and illustrated by students. Then, thanks to the so-called press the teacher founded, the books were published, bound in materials and colors the authors chose.

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At an "author party," the young authors proudly displayed their books and read from them.

Now, I have discovered, the writing of books by elementary school in students has taken on new dimensions. In the Mountain View School District, east of Los Angeles, a broader effort is being made.

The enterprise now goes beyond one teacher and one school to almost all of the 10 schools in the district. Moreover, the element of competition is being added. Thirty-five of the best books written by students in the district will be entered at a districtwide book fair.

The books will be judged by teachers on the Educational Planning Committee. "Awards will be given for the most original, best illustrations, best content in fiction and in nonfiction at each grade level, and best group story for children in the kindergarten through third grade," Grace Kojima, principal of Maxson School, reports.

At the awards ceremony, the local mayor, newspaper editor, president of the school board, president of the school coordinating council, and district superintendent will make the presentations.

"The entire community may attend this book fair to see the creative work of its children," it has been announced.

Certain to be there will be the young authors of the 35 best books written in elementary schools in the entire district. Also, of course, their parents, grandparents, and admiring relatives and friends.

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The idea of children as authors of books, now with the added factor of competition, seems to have caught on.

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