First-grade students at North LaFayette Elementary in Walker County have written a book.
When you walked the halls of North LaFayette Elementary, students could be seen moving from the classroom to the cafeteria or playground, visibly excited, yet thoughtfully quiet so as to not disturb other students. The walls outside of the classrooms were adorned with artwork and assignments by the young minds of Walker County.
On the wall outside of Ms. White's class, there were some curious drawings of rainbows and clouds with whimsical faces.
Local children's book author Patricia Wilbanks (affectionally known as Pennie) recently wrote and illustrated a book, "If I Ate a Cloud Today." The book describes all the whimsical and ambitious things young readers might experience if they "ate a cloud," such as falling down like rain, playing hide and seek with the sun and moon, and making friends with rainbows. It poses curiosities for the young mind, such as whether they would be a dark cloud who claps to make thunder, and what they think a cloud would taste like. The unanimous answer to the latter question, Ms. White's first-grade class exclaimed collectively, was "cotton candy."
This book inspired the first-graders to each write and illustrate their own version of the book, while also looking for answers, identity and self-image inside themselves.
One of the assignments associated was for the students to write "power words" on each color of the rainbow in an illustrated cutout from the book. The students wrote words such as "beautiful," "kind," "good reader," "friendly," and "strong." One child, Anna Claire, even wrote "red hair" on her own rainbow. This part of the assignment, according to Wilbanks, who was beaming with pride, seemed to inspire an environment of self-love and healthy self-image.
Student also shared their favorite part of the book, most of them saying they enjoyed the made-up word that described the sound of thunder, "boom-shaka-laka."
"My biggest aspiration is to inspire," Wilbanks said, "and I'm so glad to have inspired these kids. I'm just so proud of them. ... I am a huge supporter of arts and literature and would love to start something in this town for kids that include writing and art."