Young Authors Celebrated at Black Hills Children’s Home

Posted on November 30, 2023

Students in Jennifer Williams’ class in Owen School at Black Hills Children’s Home recently celebrated the publication of their (first) book!

You Want to Know WHAT About Wild Animals? was written by Jennifer’s students, illustrated by Teacher Gillian Spiva, with coloring and additional illustrations also from students.

This preview of You Want to Know WHAT About Wild Animals? shows the cover, an introduction from Jen and Jace, two inside pages and the table of contents.

“Over the course of my career, I have been a huge advocate for lifting the spirits of the students I work with,” said Jennifer. “I wanted to do something incredibly special for the students in my class at BHCH. I called the publisher, gave them the deadline for our work to be submitted, and they sent me the materials to get started.”

“The students wanted to write about animals, so we chose to write the book as an informational piece about their chosen animal. We started the project back at the beginning of June. The students put in a lot of hard work in the writing process.”

One of the authors, Kash, reads from the book, You Want to Know WHAT About Wild Animals?

The publication party began at 10 am, with Teacher Assistant Jace Jackson as the emcee. Residential Treatment Program Director Freddy Maseman invited his friend, author Kayla Gahagan (whose work has appeared in The New York Times, WIRED and more), to be a guest speaker. Children read aloud the pieces they had written and received a copy of the published book purchased by Director of Schools Mike Groher along with an official author certificate from Student Treasures Publishing.

After the awards, Jace hosted a dance party. Then it was lunchtime; kitchen staff decorated the dining hall to celebrate the occasion and created cakes showing the book cover! After lunch, the festivities continued with student vs. teacher games, including dodge ball and tug of war.

“This is an event that they looked forward to…Their hard work was beaming in their smiles,” says Jennifer. “I hope to be able to provide them with an event like this at least every year so I can give them hope and inspiration for their futures.”

Assistant Director of Owen School Tara Chayka presented these student authors with gifts.

No celebration is complete without a cake! BHCH cooks made this custom cake featuring the book cover for the party.