Learning By the Book: May 6 Student Authors’ Fair

Colorful, handmade books, authored and illustrated by Mount Madonna School (MMS) students will be on display May 6 at the 34th annual Student Authors’ Fair at Capitola Mall in Capitola. The event will feature hundreds of books created by students from throughout the area. Student authors are invited to read their books to the audience during the fair, which runs from 10:00am to 3:00pm.

The MMS display will include books created by preschool through fifth grade students. Kindergartners will be sharing their Grains of Mount Madonna books and The Story of a Raindrop, a book that preschool and kindergarten students made with their fifth grade big buddies.

“I love bringing the children’s books to the Student Authors’ fair because it is fun to show their creative, lovely work to the community and to be inspired by the beautiful books that other schools display,” commented Hema Walker, preschool and kindergarten director and teacher. “My favorite thing to do while I’m hosting our table is to read the stories from the children in the older classes so that I can revisit my old friends who have moved through our kindergarten program!”

MMS kindergarten students make books throughout the year illustrating the different themes that students study. They create life cycle books on topics including wheat, apple trees, butterflies, pumpkins and water. They create their own leaf and wild grain identification books. They create special books for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, as well as books illustrating concepts from the culture that the class studies each year for its Cultural Awareness unit. They also create books that they work on throughout the whole year, such as their drawing journal, golden number book and an ‘ABC’ sounds book.

“The purpose of the fair is to encourage students to write their own books and then to recognize these students by sharing their books in this public venue,” stated a spokesperson for the Santa Cruz County Office of Education (SCCOE). The SCCOE co-sponsors the event with the Santa Cruz County Reading Association.

First grade students are creating Peter Rabbit perspective stories, written from the points of view of various characters – including Peter Rabbit, Mr. McGregor, Momma Bunny, Peter’s sister rabbits, and even the perspective of some of the vegetables eaten from Mr. McGregor’s garden!

MMS second graders have been studying fairy tales and fables and read several classic literature works in both genres. They’ve discussed various versions of the same story from different cultures, including Cinderella from Native American and Korean perspectives and Red Riding Hood from Chinese and African-American perspectives. They also read about the three little pigs from the wolf’s perspective and The Principal’s New Clothes by Stephanie Calmenson, to get a fun new version of a well-known classic.

After reading and discussing many stories, students will write their own version of a Cinderella story. They will self-edit, peer-edit and work with their teacher to create a final draft.

“This lessons provide an opportunity to assess listening comprehension, writing mechanics, spelling, handwriting and writing with organization,” noted teacher and Director of Lower School Jenni Leach. “It gives students a chance to hear classic literature, cultural variations and differentiated versions of the same story. It also allows students to be creative storytellers and illustrators.”

For the authors’ fair, second and third graders created a collection of illustrated poetry.

“This age group is more able to put words on paper, so it is a natural step to reflect upon word choice,” note Heinrich. “Students classically describe things as ‘fun’ or ‘cool’, but what does that look like? How does it feel, taste or smell? Even though the poems were short, the students wrote many drafts trying to connect interesting and unique descriptions. Many of their poems were truly inspiring.”

Fourth graders are working on a story from the perspective of a Native American who lives near a newly-constructed mission. Teacher Nick Cabassa, said the students’ story looks at some of the challenges faced by Native Americans, as well as the culture shock they experienced.

“Creating a book together was such a fun and engaging experience for the fifth graders and their preschool and kindergarten buddies,” noted fifth grade teacher Jessica Cambell, “and a great opportunity for mentoring across the grades.”


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, Director of Marketing & Communications,

Nestled among the redwoods on 355 mountaintop acres, Mount Madonna is a safe and nurturing college-preparatory school that supports students in becoming caring, self-aware and articulate critical thinkers, who are prepared to meet challenges with perseverance, creativity and integrity. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville.