826 helps students appreciate and create literary art. In an effort to honor the students’ accomplishments, to give them an opportunity to show off their work, and to enhance the quality of their school work, 826 publishes a vast amount of student writing. We know that these publications are critical to a student’s engagement in a project—students take pride in creating a professionally finished product. They experience a complete publishing process. We invite students to create in many genres, from journalism to cartooning. We work closely with teachers when designing our projects in order to ensure that we are meeting teachers’ and schools’ larger goals. Our process is designed to help students experience, appreciate, practice, and recognize great writing.
The topics of our books are inspired by our collaborating teachers’ favorite lesson plans. They are in-depth views of the material within the school curriculum. The process we’ve created is very exciting: volunteer adult writers work with students at their school for a semester. When the book is finished, the sponsor writes an introduction and hosts a reading with all the students and their families. Because of the well known sponsors (Amy Tan, Isabel Allende, Robin Williams, Phil Jackson, Sherman Alexie) and the professional quality of the publications, students work diligently on their essays and learn everything about the process of publishing. Several thousands of each of these books are produced. They are a source of pride for us and for the young authors.
For an inside look at one of our book projects, check out this video clip from 826 Valencia's 2008-2009 book project: