Students in Mrs. Nancy Martin’s ESL English classes took part in an activity about a children’s storybook. The stories they wrote were from the country that the ESL (English as a Second Language, now English Language Learners) students come from. It was done in all the English classes.

The reason that the teacher chose this assignment is to learn about the culture of students in our classes and also it is part of a local assessment. The other part of this is, after we complete the book project, we need to write a letter to a publisher convincing him to put our stories in a textbook.

The countries represented are Somalia, Iran, Russia, Honduras and Burma.

We first had to remember a story from our childhood. Then we wrote it down and read it in class. Then we had to edit the story with both our peers and our teacher. Then we typed out the story and sat down with our teacher and decided how to make it into a picture book. Then we had to break down the pages and format them for the style of book we chose. We had about eight different styles to look at, and some students made changes to the style to fit their own story.

“It was interesting to see that some of them had to ask their parents to re-tell the story,” Mrs. Martin noted. Fatuma Haji-Hersi said she had a difficult time remembering the story she wanted to use and had to ask her father about the details.

Some of the stories were heard in other countries. Nay Aung said he had heard Delcy Romero’s story of the “Little Chicken” who thought the sky was falling. Mahamed Hersi, from Iraq, had heard a similar version of Vladimir Tolstikhin’s Russian story about a goldfish granting wishes, and Mahamed was also familiar with Hnin Lwin’s story about a prince who stole.

Mahamed said the book project “was fun. I like doing the project, getting the pictures, making the whole book.” Nay said he liked “finding photos and coloring them, and working on the computer” to put his book together

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