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First graders publish book, "Kenmare Community Workers"

Every student in Ruth Wallstrum’s first grade class at Kenmare Elementary School is now a published writer.

1/16/13 (Wed)

Kenmare's newest authors . . . One first grader reads his page
about Kenmare Elementary School principal Janis Gerding in

Kenmare Community Workers, a book written and illustrated by
Ruth Wallstrum's class. Other students look on, waiting for
their pages.  The students presented a copy of their new book
to the Kenmare Branch Library on Thursday during a ceremony
that included the read-aloud performance.

By Caroline Downs

Every student in Ruth Wallstrum’s first grade class at Kenmare Elementary School is now a published writer.

And everybody in town can go to the Kenmare Branch Library to borrow their book, Kenmare Community Workers.

The book, complete with 18 pages of writing in the authors’ own penmanship and 18 photographs of workers around Kenmare, started as a classroom project last fall.

“This was something I always wanted to do,” Wallstrum said. “We have a ‘Who Works Here?’ unit in our readers and then in social studies, we study who works in different kinds of jobs.”

Wallstrum and her students brainstormed choices for the workers they wanted to include in the book. “There are so many more people we could have written about, but we picked workers the kids kind of knew,” she said. “Of course, they all wanted their own bus driver!”

Wallstrum took the photos used in the book. Her students wrote a few sentences about each individual, practicing first on their own paper with pencils. They wrote the finished draft with ink on paper supplied by the publishing company.

“First graders just don’t write in ink!” Wallstrum said.

The students selected several school district employees for the book, along with a banker, a few business owners, a reporter, the postmaster, and various health care providers.

Kenmare Community Workers also featured representatives of the city, including Mayor Roger Ness, fire chief Doug Skjordal and police chief Gary Kraft.

The students presented a copy of their book to librarian Pauline Nielsen, who had her own page, during a ceremony held at Kenmare Branch Library on Thursday. Nielsen said the book would be available at the local library. Wallstrum noted information provided in the book by the publishing company Student Treasures for anyone interested in ordering additional copies.

The students crowded around Wallstrum and Nielsen as they waited their turns to read their own pages aloud during Thursday’s special event. “They were excited when they got the books back [from the publisher],” Wallstrum said.

That enthusiasm resonates from the book, beginning with the colorful cover and a dedication page that reads “Dedicated to all community workers! Thank you for all you do!”

Kenmare Community Workers can be read or checked out at the Kenmare Branch Library.