Elementary Students to Become Published Authors
June 8, 2005

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Atlanta—Approximately 770 elementary students will soon have the thrill of seeing their work published in a hardback book, thanks to Mercer's Budding Authors summer writing enrichment workshops.

A joint effort of the Tift College of Education and Mercer's College for Kids, Budding Authors is a program in which first through fifth-grade students try their hand at writing in a variety of formats. The students attend "college" on the Cecil B. Day Atlanta Campus for one week and work with Mercer graduate education students and alumni to hone their writing skills. Then, at the end of the workshop, they select one piece of their work for publication. This year, students are participating in Budding Authors on Mercer's Cecil B. Day Atlanta Campus June 6-24. 

In the fall, the students will return to Mercer for a special graduation ceremony. At the event, they will receive a hardback book featuring one piece of writing from each of the participants. A copy of the book will also be sent to the library of each of the participating students' schools.

As the result of a partnership agreement with Gwinnett County Schools, Gwinnett students are nominated for Budding Authors by their teachers based on their writing talent and interest. This is the fourth year the program has been offered on the Atlanta campus. 

Through innovative writing exercises, the Mercer graduate students and alumni help students sharpen their reading and writing skills. For example, one of the teachers takes pictures from children's books that her class isn't familiar with and covers up the words. She then gives her students copies of the pictures and asks them to write their own stories based on the drawings. The students can mix up the order of the pictures and write whatever they want. Then, after everyone is finished with their writing, the teacher reads the students the original story.

"The children really enjoy that exercise," said Dr. Mary Willingham, professor of education at Mercer and co-director of the Budding Authors on the Atlanta Campus. "This a rewarding academic experience for both the Mercer graduate students and the elementary students because the students who participate in the program are there because they love reading and writing and they're eager to learn."

Willingham said she particularly enjoys watching the students' reactions when they receive the hardback book with their work published inside.

"The children get to become published authors," she said. "When they receive their books, they immediately open them up and they become oblivious to everything else around them."

Budding Authors workshops are also offered on Mercer's Macon campus and regional academic centers in Henry County and Douglas County.
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