Fifth-graders at Severna Park Elementary took a page out of their role model’s book in June, creating their own published stories about animals.
Following a visit from children’s book author Jennifer Keats Curtis earlier in the school year, the kids began crafting their own narratives to share with the storyteller.
Keats Curtis has published 25 books, including her most recent release called “Pooper Snooper,” which describes how dogs use their “sniffers” to aid scientists in learning about endangered animals.
Through Studentreasures Publishing, students designed their own tales, which were brought to life and combined into one book with help from Severna Park Elementary teacher Kathryn Hayes. On June 8, Keats Curtis visited several classes to hear their stories firsthand.
Addison Pearson combined elements of reality and fiction for her tale about dogs. Her inspiration came from a few dogs, including her own, which she believes is a Bernese and golden retriever mix that her parents brought home from Indiana.
“I got to learn more about dogs with [my story] because this was a whole journey about how dogs act,” she said. “Because when we got Nala, she wasn’t skittish at all — she was very playful — but Holly, she acted quite differently, and taught me more about behaviors of dogs and how to take care of them differently.”
Olivia Smith was excited that her story can help people learn more about animals.
“I just loved learning about JKC and her story and all the animals she saved,” Olivia said, referencing the author’s initials. “I loved that she read one of her books and that was really interesting. I also really like helping animals. I helped a little bunny, I’ve helped frogs. I’ve helped so many things.”
Keats Curtis signed copies of the books for students, and she was allowed to keep a few stories as gifts.
“It’s an honor and a pleasure to use animals to encourage kids to care, to write, and to find their voices about our shared passion for taking care of wildlife,” she said. “I was delighted to be part of the sharing experience, and incredibly honored to receive my own signed copies of their stories. I will treasure them always.”
The writing experience and the visit from Keats Curtis made a strong impression on several students, including Olivia.
“Like it’s so wonderful that could be a job and I really look up to her and I want to do that when I’m older,” Olivia said.
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