By RACHEL SCHREIBSTEIN, KATIE MARGOLIS and MATT ROTHSTEIN
The publishers of Michelle Obama’s newest release, Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice, have donated copies of the book to the Jericho High School students who participated in this past summer’s Canon Solutions America Future Authors Project.
Carisa Hays, vice president and executive director of publicity at the Crown Publishing Group, was excited to learn that the theme of the summer writing workshop was inspired by Obama’s memoir, Becoming, published last year. Hays reached out to Jericho English teacher and summer writing workshop facilitator Suzanne Valenza via email, stating that she was “so thrilled to hear how Obama’s book has inspired your students.”
Within a few days, 36 copies of Obama’s new book arrived, and the students were delighted to receive them.
“The Canon Solutions America Future Authors Project has helped me find my voice, and I know this journal will help me amplify it in my everyday life,” junior Ariel K. said.
The Canon authors now have a newfound motivation, too.
“I think receiving Michelle Obama’s new book gave everyone encouragement about their work,” workshop participant and senior Mariam K. said.
Mariam K. enjoyed how the summer writing program has come “full circle” after the book distribution.
“Now, we can use Mrs. Obama’s journal to move further in our personal becoming as writers and students,” she said.
The theme of becoming resonated with student participants. There’s a sense of unity among all of the students. Participant and senior Isabella L. said that writing and publishing together “shows that the feelings we feel during our different upbringings and experiences are generally the same.”
Jericho English Language Arts Curriculum Associate Daniel Salzman believes these kinds of learning experiences are invaluable.
“We continue to find ways to amplify our students’ voices and teach young people why their ideas matter,” Salzman said. “The exchange of our books demonstrates how you never know what may inspire a future author.”
Jericho Superintendent Henry Grishman emphasized how important it is for developing writers to form communities.
“In the recently published book, Always Becoming, our students shared who they are as future authors,” Grishman said. “A major theme of Mrs. Obama’s Becoming is to share our stories, and our Jericho students did just that. We are honored to participate in a book exchange with her.”
Rachel Schreibstein, Katie Margolis and Matt Rothstein are each student-journalists for Jericho High School’s JerEcho publication.