GLEN ELLYN – While some writers struggle for years to get their big break, three Glen Ellyn students can now call themselves published authors, thanks to their own hard work and a little help from the American Reading Company.
As part of their English as a Second Language (ESL) classes last year, the Hadley Junior High School students researched and wrote 15- to 20-page nonfiction books on the topics of their choice.
The books were selected to be published on the American Reading Company website, joining about 20 other student books with the same distinction.
It is rare for a student to be chosen for publication, let alone three from the same school district.
“We were ecstatic when all three of our students were chosen at the middle school level to publish with the company,” said Katie McCluskey, director of Glen Ellyn School District 41’s ELL (English Language Learner) and bilingual programs.
Adam Ali, Jose Hernandez and Merry Tlue created their books as part of the American Reading Company’s Research Labs program, which D-41 implemented for the first time in third-level ESL classes at Hadley last year.
Writing is the focus of ESL classes at that level, and the program taught students how to research a topic and write about it, said the students’ teacher, Lisa Marquez.
As an eighth-grader, Adam chose to research and write about Nascar, since the eighth-grade topic for the project was sports and society.
Part of the reason Adam picked Nascar was because he likes cars, he said.
Now a freshman at Glenbard West High School, the Glendale Heights resident grew up in Pakistan, and his native language is Urdu.
His mom, Shazia Ahmed, said it was wonderful to have her son’s book chosen to be published.
“I’m very proud of him,” Ahmed said. “It was a big thing for us.”
Jose wrote about the Revolutionary War, discussing the conflicts among the 13 colonies that initially prevented them from uniting as one country.
“I learned a lot about it in social studies, and I really liked it,” Jose said.
The eighth-grader from Glendale Heights speaks both English and Spanish.
Merry, now in seventh grade at Hadley, was born in Burma and also lived in Malaysia before moving to Glen Ellyn.
Her book focused on natural resources and the importance of recycling and received the most points when students reviewed each other’s work.
The three books that were submitted by the District to the American Reading Company for consideration and ultimately published received the best peer reviews.
“The three that the kids voted on would have been the three that I voted for,” Marquez said.
Although the books from District 41 were written by students whose first language is not English, they were judged according to the same criteria as any other student book that is sent to the company.
The District learned this July that all three books were chosen to be published and used as examples of the quality of work students can achieve in the Research Labs program.
Adam, Jose and Merry were recognized at the Sept. 23 D-41 Board of Education meeting, where they received a plaque and $50 check from the American Reading Company.
Their books can be found online at the American Reading Company website.
“I think it’s just an exceptional example of what we want all of our students to achieve,” McCluskey said.