REYNOLDSVILLE — Students in Donna Coder’s second grade class recently learned they have made it to the semi-finals of the Studenttreasures Publishing National Book Challenge with their book “The Best Part of Winter.”

Studenttreasures challenges classrooms across the country to publish a book and spotlight the creativity of the students. Participating classrooms can also win grants for the school through the contest. First place is a $5,000 grant and at least 50 finalist will receive $50 gift cards.

Coder has been having her classes participate in the challenge for the last five years. She helps her students brainstorm a topic or theme to link personal experiences and background knowledge with to write and illustrate their own book. This year the topic was winter, so students made lists of events and activities they like during winter, then picked the best parts to include.

“Creating the book was rigorous. They engaged in first-hand experience on being an author. Students had to practice creating sentences that made sense, that connected to the topic, and to include enough information so that the reader could picture their words,” Coder said.

The class would spend extra time at the end of the school day to learn how to draw boys, girls, snowman, trees, and other winter images Coder expected would appear in the book. This prepared the students to make their illustrations later.

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“When they arrived back at the school in a box in mid-December, it was an exciting day. The looks on their faces and the enthusiasm throughout the room was worth all the extra effort. Such an accomplishment for them to be proud of!” Coder said.

The class will find out in May if the book advances to the finals of the competition, and the overall winner will be notified in July.

“I felt mind blown that it actually came because we’re only a second grade class and I didn’t think we could do this,” said Nathan, a student in the class.

“I was just so concerned that it was not going to be neat enough, that it was not going to be good enough, that I added too much decoration,” said Eberlee, another student. “Authors have to work hard on this. It has to make sense.”

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