This year’s Young Authors’ Book Project cohort is about to publish a poetry collection! Here’s a peek at one of the behind-the-scenes sessions.
About the Young Authors’ Book Project
The Young Authors’ Book Project, aka YABP, is one of our free writing programs for DC students ages 6-18! It’s a full-year classroom project, culminating in a book to be shared with readers across the District and beyond.
This year’s YABP cohort is a dynamic group of fourth-grade poets from Savoy Elementary School in Ward 8.
So what are our sessions with them like, anyway? Read on to find out.
A Day at YABP
It was a sunny Wednesday on week 18 of the project, and the students had just joined us in the Savoy Elementary School library. The writers took their seats, and then 826DC School Residency Coordinator Cai Rodrigues-Sherley greeted the class and shared the day’s agenda.
“We always start by going over our expectations for each other and the plan for what we’ll do,” Cai later explains. “This helps everybody get situated and reaffirms that this is a space that we’ve created—and will continue to create—together.”
He then introduced the main focus of the day’s session: author biographies.
To help illustrate what author biographies are like, Cai brought examples for the group to read. The first author biography was for E. Ethelbert Miller, the author who would read all of their poems and then write the foreword for the book:
E. Ethelbert Miller is a writer and literary activist. He was born in 1950 and grew up in New York City. A graduate of Howard University, he was one of the first students to major in African American Studies. Today, he is the board chair of the Institute for Policy Studies, in Washington, D.C. Miller served as Director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University and is the editor of Poet Lore, the oldest poetry magazine published in the United States. The author of several collections of poetry, he has also written two memoirs, Fathering Words: The Making of an African American Writer (2000) and The 5th Inning (2009). Miller was inducted into the Washington, D.C. Hall of Fame in 2015.
After the young writers examined and discussed the biography in groups, they came back together to take a look at other author biographies from fellow 826DC students:
Edwin Z. is a pretty chill and laid-back type of dude. He is not much of a reader, but he loves to write small things or draw at moments. In his free time, he loves to play his guitars, which he assembles, or go on long bicycle rides and take photos. After school, he enjoys playing for the school soccer and lacrosse teams.
Esteya S. loves to play, watch Disney movies and go outside. Her favorite part of school this year is Morning Meeting and ELA. She feels a little good about being a published author, but really only likes Monkey poems. She’s good at playing, watching movies, and going outside and digging in the backyard.
Paola R. lives on Earth. Paola likes to sleep and color and play video games. She is 11 years old, and her favorite sport is basketball. Her family lives with her, and after school, Paola helps her mother cook.
Sebastian S.P. lives in Beltsville, Maryland. One of Sebastian’s hobbies is parkour. He is 11 years old, and his favorite book is Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Sebastian lives with his mom, and he is also a YouTuber.
The class talked about what they noticed in each of the biographies and did a quick brainstorm about what they might put in their own.
Then the students got to writing.
Their voices, their choices
826DC can’t wait to show you what the students chose to include in their author biographies. It’s what matters to them and, to put it simply, what they would like you to know. We’re proud to have gotten students more familiar with this publishing mainstay, but even prouder that the students then used that context to express themselves and truly make it their own.
Looking into the Sky
You’ll be able to read the students’ bios, as well as their poems, quite soon! Their poetry collection, Looking into the Sky, comes out in June 2023.
If you’d like us to email you when we start taking preorders for this delightful book, please let us know here. We will also update this blog post to include the preorder link.
Curious about bringing YABP to your school? Get in touch with Andrea Nelson, 826DC’s Director of Education, to learn more.