With the help of a group of University of Notre Dame undergraduate students, children from the Robinson Community Learning Center worked together to publish a book of their stories and artwork.
Called “Every Child Has a Story,” the self-published children’s book features three stories with drawings that were created by the RCLC students, all between the ages of 7 and 11.
In spring 2011, a group of about 10 undergraduates from Notre Dame’s Student International Business Council decided to create and market a book with the students from the RCLC that could provide continued income to the center. Many of the Notre Dame students in the group, working as the Global Development section of the SIBC, volunteered at the Robinson Center and saw an opportunity to help develop the children’s literacy and creativity skills.
Velshonna Luckey, youth development program director at the RCLC, said the children collaborated on the content for the book. “The students were divided into small teams and they worked on a few ideas,” she said. “The process was an entire year – ideas, characters, story and illustration. Each story had to be accompanied with a picture. After all the stories were completed – some groups had multiple stories – the top stories from each group were selected.”
The book contains three of these stories, accompanied by illustrations. One of the stories, for example, is about a visit to the White House to meet President Barack Obama.
“Last year, the group worked extremely hard to get a professional designer to prepare the book for print,” Luckey said. “The final version is absolutely beautiful!”
The Notre Dame students decided to publish the book through Amazon.com, setting it up so that the proceeds from sales go back to the Robinson Center.
“Because so many people are involved at the Robinson Center, we wanted to do as much as we could because they do so much for the kids and the community,” said freshman Lisa Wuertz, an SIBC member and Robinson Center volunteer.
After facing setbacks such as when the initial project leader left to study abroad and challenges with printing, the finished book was published in March.
“It has been amazing for the students seeing their original work in a published book,” Luckey said. “We spend a lot of time encouraging our students to write and realize that every book they read was started by someone having a good idea and a willingness to work hard to get it published.
“It’s amazing to see the stories the students came up with. It was a lot of fun to see them work with the college students as well. They were a very interesting group of children with very diverse interest and personalities, and they had to work as a team, which wasn’t always easy. So they learned a lot about working in groups, sharing ideas and compromise.”
Paperback copies of “Every Child Has a Story,” sold for $12, are available online or at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore.