By Wendy Brown, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsJune 12, 2019
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (June 12, 2019) -- There were times Lauren Rosa went to pick up her twins at the School Age Center this year and they weren't ready to go home yet.
Emmi and Camryn, fourth-graders, were busy working on their books for the Write Brain Club at the center.
"They'd say, 'Sit down, mom. Can you help me edit this?' Or, 'I just finished this page. What do you think?' Or, 'I don't know how to finish this.' It was quite the project for them," Rosa said.
The girls, along with four other members of the club, got to hold their books in their hands at the Sagamihara Family Housing Area Library June 11 as family members, SAC staff and library officials congratulated them on publishing their books and having them available for checkout in the children's section of the library.
This year's club started at the beginning of the school year and entailed meeting once a week for an hour and learning about the entire process of creating a book, said Michelle Baldwin, who spearheaded the club and is the center's director.
When the students had learned enough about the writing process, they chose an illustrated book on the Write Brain Books website and wrote a story to go along with the pictures, Baldwin said. When they were ready, the company published the books and sent them to the center.
Emmi, author of "Dragon's Tale," said it felt "pretty cool" to hold the book in her hands.
"I felt like I was a real author publishing a book," said Emmi, excited about the idea of others reading her work. "Kids come to the library, and they'll look for books to check out. What if a kid checked out my book and they shared it with their friends?"
The club was fun, Emmi said, and all the hard work was worth it in the end.
"I think the writing was my favorite part of it because you got to let your imagination go wild," Emmi said.
Her sister Camryn, who coauthored "The Pearl Necklace" with Ailynn Hanneman, said she enjoyed being creative and coming up with words to go with the pictures.
Camryn said she recommends the club to other students.
"It's a really creative club, and you get to be a real author, and once you keep doing it, you can get more and more books written by you and actually become a bestselling author," Camryn said.
Christyna Platt, also a fourth-grader, said her book, "The Truth About Jerimiah," is about a boy who has cancer but doesn't tell his friends. In the end, they all come to support him at the hospital.
Christyna said she is glad the book is available for checkout at the library because she wants others to read it.
"I thought it was really nice because everybody can read it and get the message that I put in the book," Christyna said.
Christyna's mother, Chandra Platt, said she thinks the program is beneficial on a number of levels.
"Now that they get to see the finished product, they can be proud of themselves and they can also believe in what's possible for them in their future," Platt said. "I think it's an awesome program, and it encourages them to not only write, but to read as well."
Karen Allen, a second-grader and the author of "The Magical Book," said she is glad her book is in the library because others will have a chance to read it.
Karen thanked Baldwin and Kirsten McCauley, Corey Leon Guerrero and Edward Litzinger, SAC staff members, for helping her.
Baldwin said two children participated in the club last year, nine participated this year and she hopes more will join next year.
"The way the curriculum is written is that it focuses on a variety of different age groups and different developmental levels and things like that, so really it's very inclusive and anybody can join," Baldwin said.
This was the first year the center partnered with the library to have the books available for checkout, Baldwin said.
Jim Lacombe, Camp Zama supervisory librarian, said he is glad to have the books available for checkout because it highlights what people in the community can do and it celebrates the children's accomplishments. It will also be a good springboard for next year's club, he said.