A third-grade class at Neubert Elementary School in Algonquin will shine in the spotlight Friday as they sip tea, munch on snacks, discuss and autograph their books with the adoring public -- their parents.
The 22 students are writing and illustrating their own hardcover books thanks to their teacher, Katie Avery, who secured a $125 classroom teacher grant from the Kappa Delta Pi Educational Foundation to set up her Author's Tea initiative.
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Avery, 31, a teacher new to Carpentersville-based Community Unit District 300, used the money to buy blank hardcover books and award-winning children's books so her students can see how the authors wrote and illustrated their stories.
For three months, the students studied those books, developed their own stories and wrote rough drafts of chapters on notebook paper.
This week, they are transferring the text to their books, designing their covers and finalizing their illustrations.
Avery has a passion for reading and writing and wants to give her students a sampling of how adult authors write and sometimes promote their own books.
"They love to write and this group is really, really creative, so I just wanted to capture that and enhance that," said Avery, who lives in Bartlett. "Some are perfectionists so they like to make sure they really look good."
Inspiration for their stories came from several sources. And while the boys mostly focused on fantasy topics, the girls often pulled from reality.
For example, Megan Pranczke, 8, of Algonquin is working on "Fashionistas," a book inspired by one of her favorite shows, "Say Yes To the Dress." On the show, brides try on wedding gowns before an entourage of family, friends and bridal consultants before saying "yes" to the one they want.
"Fashionistas" tells the story of three models who are figuring out what to wear at a fashion show.
Kenny Yeun's book, "Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga," is based on the video game by the same name.
In his story, two Jedis are on a mission to fight Darth Maul and wind up getting separated.
Kenny said he is excited about the project and can't wait to talk all about it with his parents.
"I like when we got to have these hard books and we can write our own books and stuff," said the 9-year-old Algonquin boy.
After the Author's Tea, the books will be on display in the school library for a week.
Avery hopes to expand the program to all of the third-grade classes next year by either applying for another grant or asking for parental contributions.