LAWRENCE, Kan.. — Storytelling begins at an early age at St. John Catholic school in Lawrence, Kan. For nearly 15 years, first grade language arts teacher, Gini Shoulberg, has helped her students express complete freedom on paper.
“I want them to be totally comfortable putting their thoughts on paper rather than worrying about; is it spelled right? Where do I put a period? Is this a complete sentence? Just get it down on paper first,” said Shoulberg.
The workshops are held every Monday afternoon, involving all first grade students. They write about what ever they want to. Volunteers, parents and even grandparents help with the editing process. Then they story is typed, printed out and the students begin making illustrations for the story.
Serenity Stewart reads her story about her family out load to Shoulberg as she types it on the computer.
“I love them. We like to go swimming. We have fun,” reads Stewart.
There’s no shortage of imagination at St. John. Some of the stories are about, mermaids, dragons and ninja’s. Alex Godinez is writing about his favorite band, the Beatles.
“The Beatles are awesome. They sing a submarine song. There were four of them. They sing a lot,” reads Godinez.
The stories are simple, but complete. Volunteer Tom Mach has been helping shape the exciting and sometimes surprising stories for eight years.
“I come back home to my wife and say, do you know what so and so said? I share that with her and we bust out laughing,” said Mach.
Mach says he enjoys learning how the children learn, their thought process intrigues him.
Julia Rathmel gets help from her grandmother during the workshop as she writes about the Olympic games.
“You do lots of sports. You can win medals. I like the swimming races best.” reads Rathmel.
When the final draft is complete with the illustrations, the published pieces are hung in the hallway underneath the “about the author” summary.