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MONTREAL, OCTOBER 25, 2004ó Books always open up a whole new world to young readers. But what if they got the chance not only to write their own books, but also to edit and publish them and share them with more young readers? Marco Froticelli, an English teacher at Holy Cross Elementary School in St. Laurent, has managed to turn his Grade 4 and 6 classes into a mini book publishing company called "HC Publishing."

"When kids write, edit and publish their own books, and they see the result of their work, it gives them the motivation to write and read even more," said Mr. Froticelli, who has been running this project for 12 years, and so far has published nearly 30 titles with his students. Each book project begins with Mr. Froticelli telling the class what the premise of the upcoming book will be. Then each student is assigned a page, in which they are responsible to type up on the computer, as well as edit and revise. The completed manuscript is then published, in which each student receives a copy of the finished book. As well, six copies go to the school library, where they are placed in a specially-designated shelf space that carries only the books published by Mr. Froticelliís students.

The ideas for the books are wide-ranging, from a year-long diary of New France settlers, to a collection of two-word poems and limericks, to their upcoming release, a collection of illustrated poems, which is scheduled to be published sometime next month.

Sometimes Mr. Froticelli puts out a writing challenge to his students, and the results are remarkable. This happened last year, when he challenged his grade 6 students to write an entire novel on their own. The challenge was inspired by Gordon Korman, a prolific and popular author of childrenís and young adult novels, who was also challenged to write a novel when he was in grade 6. The book, which ended up being the first of his bestselling "MacDonald Hall" novels, was subsequently published by Scholastic Canada.

One of Mr. Fronticelliís students, Priyantha Kulasinkam, took up the challenge, and wrote a chapter that she read to the class. "The response to it was quite good, and she ended up writing more and more chapters," he said. "All of her classmates eagerly anticipated every chapter she finished; it was almost like a cliffhanger." Priyantha then single-handedly wrote, edited and typed up the manuscript, which ended up being a full-length novel called "Everyone Makes Mistakes". For her efforts, she was presented an honorary award by The Ceylon Times, a Tamil community newspaper, this past July. As a result of this, Priyantha just started writing her second novel.

Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213